July 28th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Yes you read right, for today’s wedding we’re heading to Chester Zoo to relive Sam and Dan’s gorgeous big day.
Despite how it might sound there were no ‘I dos’ in the lion den or drinks reception in the elephant enclosure, for Chester Zoo has a stunning manor house in its grounds, which is available for ceremonies and receptions.
Not only is this wedding incredibly beautiful, thanks to Sam’s love of all things shabby chic, but it also looks incredibly fun, with guests smiling, laughing and generally having a fab time in the somewhat unusual setting.
But enough from us, we’ll let you see the wild and wonderful day for yourselves.
With images by Yana Photography.
sam says: We got engaged in January 2012, while we were in Madrid. Dan had the proposal planned for a while and I didn’t have a clue. I knew we were going to Madrid but thought it was just for a bit of sightseeing. Dan was trying to pop the question down a cute little street but I was too busy looking around so instead he asked me once we got back to the apartment, after a lovely meal out.
We decided to set the wedding date for 16th May 2015 as we thought it would be a good time of year weather wise.
We got married at Chester Zoo, in the Oakfield Manor House. Dan come across the zoo as a wedding venue on the internet and as we didn’t want a traditional wedding, we thought it would be perfect for us. Which it was. We live quite close to Chester so it was an ok distance to travel for us and our guests.
The theme and colour scheme for the wedding was ‘pastel shabby chic’. I love everything and anything vintage so the styling was always going to be along these lines and pastel colours work really well for a shabby chic wedding.
My dress was from First Lady Bridal in Wrexham. It was the second dress I tried on and fell in love with it straight away, it made me feel amazing. I always knew what kind of dress I wanted and it was just perfect. The dress was full length ivory, fitted, fishtail style, with a huge train. It was full lace with pretty beading detail. My veil, with full lace trim, was the best bargain of wedding – an eBay bargain! My shoes were a light pink/salmon colour from Kurt Geiger.
Dan wore a navy fitted suit from Matalan, waistcoat from Next, shoes from Zara and a navy and white floral printed tie that really worked with the theme, which was from Primark. All the groomsmen were in matching suits, again from Matalan.
I only had one bridesmaid, my 13-year-old sister. She wore a light blue maxi dress, with multi-coloured floral print all over, from ASOS. She had pastel pink shoes and belt to match.
My mum arranged the transport for me as a gift. I had a Jaguar to travel in, which was hired from RB Wedding Cars, Wrexham.
Our photographer was Yana Photography, who we would definitely recommend. Yana was really friendly and helpful with family and friends, and the pictures look amazing!
Flowers were provided by Vivid Floral Design in Wrexham. My bouquet was made up of beautiful pinks, blues, pastel coloured peonies, roses, gypsophila, gerbera among other flowers. I went for a meadow look. My bridesmaid’s bouquet was a mini version of mine, we both had lace and hessian wrapped around to carry on the theme.
All venue decorations were either made by myself, friends or family. I had a very DIY approach to the wedding which fitted the shabby chic theme really well. Decoration wise I had hessian table runners, and chair bows, ditsy print napkins, engraved wooden table numbers made by a friend, bunting made by myself and a friend, jam jars dotted with hessian and lace trim filled with flowers, tea cups and jugs filled with flowers and our name places were little flags with different floral/ ditsy print, which were made by a friend.
Our favours were Tunnocks Tea cakes. They worked well with theme and looked really cute.
We didn’t have a traditional wedding cake to cut, but instead a dessert table for guests to help themselves. My friend (Button Bakes) is amazing at baking so I asked if she would make a lovely selection of cakes: classic Victoria sponge, chocolate cake with raspberries and lemon cupcakes.
To provide the evening entertainment, we hired a DJ called Steve Lewis Entertainments, from Chester. My friends, family and I absolutely love dancing so I wanted someone who was going to play amazing music all night for us to not stop dancing. And that’s exactly what happened – lots of dance offs!
For extra entertainment we had a sweet stall for guests and a dress up corner, which was lots of fun.
As a special touch on the day my brother played the guitar for when I walked down the aisle and after the ceremony. Also, our wedding rings were specially made using my mum and dad’s wedding rings. My dad passed away before I was born, so this was something my mum suggested. A really lovely idea and they mean so much to us.
We would absolutely recommend our wedding venue to other couples. The staff were amazing on day, everything went perfect. The venue is absolutely stunning inside and the guests have the zoo to keep themselves busy. No bored guests at all.
It’s so hard to pick a favourite part of the day but I would have to say the ceremony itself was amazing, a lot more emotional than I thought. I also loved the first dance, it was perfect – I felt so happy and in love. We keep playing the song in the car all the time, as I want to relive that moment over and over again.
Following the wedding we had a short minimoon – a five day break in a log cabin in Keldy Forest, Yorkshire, which included a hot tub, prosecco and lots of food. We just wanted to completely chill out. We took our dog with us too, our little family getaway. Perfection.
My top tips to other Brides Up North would be to look around for bargains and do as much DIY as possible, it adds an extra touch and nobody else will have anything like it. But the main thing is, do what you both want. It’s your day so make it perfect for the both of you! It will be the best day ever so take it all in, as it will be over before you know it. I was crying at the end of our night because I didn’t want the night to end and our guests to leave.
Our day was made perfect thanks to the amazing help we had from family and friends. All my girls chipped in and paid for us to stay in the Double Tree Hilton Chester for the wedding night and they had the room decorated for when we arrived. My two best friends made a video of how Dan and I got together, which we loved – it was so funny. My mum, sister, nan and family members did a surprise routine to Beyoncé for me. They’d been meeting up for months in secret and doing rehearsals – this was the best wedding gift ever! Finally, I had my grandad and step dad give me away.
July 14th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
When putting together this post on Christina and Chris’s wedding I actually cried. The sentiment of Christina’s words regarding her family, who she clearly loves dearly, is so sincere that I couldn’t help welling up with a couple of tears then sent streaming down my face when she spoke of the dance she shared with her Granddad. A truly special moment that I’m sure she will cherish for years!
Keen to feel like a real princess for the day, Christina fell in love with Walworth Castle as the setting for the big day. Along with the help of groom Chris, she then planned an elegant wedding that was special yet simple, keeping the main focus on what weddings are all about – love!
With images by Essence of the Moment Photography.
christina says: We got engaged in July 2013 in Las Vegas. Chris had planned to ask me outside the Bellagio as the fountains were playing and had been planning it for months, but due to the heat I fainted and ruined the moment. Instead, he asked me when we had been out for a lovely dinner that same evening back at our hotel. After checking that he had asked my Grandfather’s permission, I said yes.
Our wedding date was 23rd August 2014. We selected this date as it was a bank holiday so we knew that people would be off work and able to attend and it would give us time together following our wedding.
We got married at Walworth Castle in West Auckland, Darlington. We chose this venue as being a History teacher I love castles and loved the idea of being a princess for the day. We looked at other venues but from the moment that we drove up the drive of the castle, I knew that it was perfect.
I wanted my wedding to be simple and elegant. I really wanted to focus on Chris and I getting married rather than anything else. I therefore tried to combine vintage ideas with elegance which would reflect both of our styles.
In terms of colours, I chose lilac and ivory as I felt that they were nice, summer shades and I also knew that my sister would look beautiful in lilac.
My wedding dress was from First Glance Bridal in Sunderland and was made by Allure Bridal. It was the second dress that I tried on and I instantly fell in love with it. I loved the delicate lace but also the train giving it a vintage yet dramatic feel. I never imagined that I would choose a form fitting dress, but from the moment that I put on the dress I knew that it was the one. I chose to only take my Grandmother with me when choosing a dress and she loved it too.
My shoes were made by an American designer and were modelled on Bella’s shoes from the Twilight movies as I fell in love with them when I first saw them in the Twilight wedding. My headpiece was from Rocks and Roses bridal boutique and my diamond bracelet was borrowed from my Grandmother.
Chris wore a grey suit with lilac accessories and an ivory waistcoat from Troughear Suit Hire at Gilesgate in Durham. The owner has been friends with my father in law for years so we knew that this was the place we would use. We chose grey as both my husband and his brother, the best man, have dark hair and I felt it would complement both their hair and skin tones and the colour scheme. Chris wore shoes from Kurt Geiger.
My sister, who was my maid of honour, wore a lilac Grecian style dress from a brand called Diva Sophia, which is stocked in Harrods. I felt that it would suit her figure and wanted her to feel comfortable as well as looking elegant. Her shoes were from Next and her clutch bag was from Accessorize.
The best man wore the same suit as Chris from Troughear Suit Hire as we wanted them to match and complement my sister’s dress.
Our photographer was Jed Wee from Essence of the Moment Photography. I would highly recommend Jed as he shot some beautiful photos and really captured our style and personalities. He made us feel very relaxed and was willing to be flexible with what we wanted. On the evening, my good friend Helen took many beautiful shots and we also had a photo booth to give us some slightly different images.
I love fresh flowers however when it came to my bouquet, I decided that I wanted something with more of a vintage feel and something that I could keep as a memento of the day. I therefore had my bouquets made by a company called Ditsy Bride, who I found online. She made me a beautiful bouquet with silk flowers, pearls, vintage brooches and lace and made a miniature version for my sister, plus she did the button holes. They were stunning.
For the reception I purchased and styled all of the decorations myself. I used several websites such as Not on the High Street and Confetti and also attended several wedding fayres to gather ideas. My chair covers and sashes were hired from Princess Occasions whom I found online and my sister took care of these for me, as she is fantastic with small details, while I decorated the venue. My centrepiece flowers came from Flowers 4 U, a local florist in Durham.
For favours the female guests had a small box designed on a bridal gown with two heart shaped chocolates inside and the male guests had a box in the shape of a suit with the same chocolates inside. The chocolates were from Hotel Chocolat and were wrapped in lilac foil. The children were given a heart-shaped chocolate lolly wrapped in lilac foil, again from Hotel Chocolat.
For the cake, we decided that we wanted a traditional fruit cake as it is Chris’s favourite and we knew it would be popular with our families. We were very lucky that Chris’s lovely Aunty Heather makes and sells beautiful cakes and offered to make our cake for us. We looked through several cake books and wedding magazines and eventually chose a petal and butterfly design with lilac detailing and ivory icing to match our colour scheme. Heather also made some beautiful cupcakes with the same lilac butterflies resting on the icing for the children.
accessorize, allure bridal, boothalicious, confetti, ditsy bride, essence of the moment photography, first glance sunderland, gray events, harrods, hotel chocolat, kurt geiger, Not on the High Street, princess occasions, real wedding, rocks and roses, troughear suit hire, uk wedding blog, walworth castle
July 10th, 2015 | Julia Braime
well heeled. Need we go on?
June 8th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
When planning their wedding, today’s couple say they very much wanted the occasion to revolve around the most important things in their lives – family, friends and love.
Taking just one look at the images below, it’s clear to see that they achieved their aim perfectly, making the day both loving and personable.
We adore Emma’s classic Ian Stuart gown and her maids’ pretty sparkling dresses, all of which tie beautifully with the elegant décor and dreamy hotel setting.
Regardless of what the weather is doing outside today, this wonderful winter wedding is guaranteed to make you feel all warm inside.
emma says: Andy proposed to me at home. It was the 20th October 2012 and I was getting ready to go out on one of our ‘date nights’. As I walked into a candle-lit living room with champagne filled glasses out on the table, my heart started racing. Andy got down on knee and then went on to tell me why he wanted to marry me before popping the question. As you can imagine, I was a blubbering wreck by the end, and of course I blurted out ‘yes’!
We booked our wedding for Saturday 31st January as we both wanted a romantic winter wedding and we thought it was the perfect time of year to hold it. Funnily enough, it was only afterwards that we realised it was exactly four years to the day that we actually met. It was obviously fate and we were meant to book that date.
We held our wedding at the stunning Merewood Country House Hotel in the Lake District. We both love the lakes and have spent a lot of time there so it seemed only natural – being one of the most romantic places in England, we knew it was the place for us to get married. We chose the Merewood as we really wanted our family and friends to feel like they were coming to somewhere homely, rather than a hotel, which was helped with us having exclusivity of the venue. As soon as you walk in it has such a cosy and warm feel to it with the open fires greeting you in the reception. It’s grand but still intimate at the same time.
I asked my two best friends and my sister to be bridesmaids and my beautiful little niece and they were all just amazing. I also asked four of my closest friends to walk down the aisle in front of me as sadly my beloved Dad passed away from cancer in September 2012. It was lovely to have all my closest girlfriends there with me right before I walked down as they have all been a great support to me over the years and it was definitely the right choice as I felt secure in the fact that if I did have a wobble, they were there. Luckily I walked in and saw everyone’s beaming faces and then I caught my future husband’s eye and he just gave me a reassuring look that he wasn’t far away – I just took a deep breath and I couldn’t stop smiling as I walked towards him.
We didn’t have a theme as such, but there were parts of the day that hinted at our styles and influences. For example my late Granddad, my Dad’s father, was a film buff and the manager of a cinema when it was all on film. I just loved to watch all of the old movies with him so Andy and I did our wedding invites like an old Hollywood cinema ticket (which our guests tore off and then sent back as an rsvp).
There is something so romantic about a winter wedding, so for my colour scheme I wanted to keep it very simple, classic and beautiful with elegance to it. I just adore whites, creams, greys and soft colours together, and it was fabulous that all the bridal party coordinated their outfits around that palette too. I wanted it to look magical, with a touch of glamour and sparkle!
The dress I chose was an Ian Stuart couture gown from Ava Rose Hamilton in Silsden, Yorkshire. I knew I had found the one, as it not only exuded glamour with an edge to it, but it was also timeless and feminine. I found inspiration from Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress that she wore when she married JFK in 1953. I just adored the neckline and I found something similar with my gown which gave it that Hollywood Glamour feel to it and I just fell in love instantly.
Andy wore a slim fit dark blue three-piece suit that he bought from Slaters in Leeds with a white shirt and a white tie and he also wore Kurt Geiger tanned brogues. He had tried on Paul Smith, Hugo Boss and viewed many other suits, but Slater’s had a huge variety and the fits were perfect – not to mention the price!
For my beautiful bridesmaids I chose dresses from a website called Virgos Lounge. I loved that they were a bit different and very glamorous and with it being winter the soft light grey and the iridescent leaf shaped embellishment on the dresses looked stunning.
The best man, usher and the father of the groom all wore suits also bought from Slaters in Leeds. We went for something slightly different from Andy’s suit, so we picked out a very similar one for the men but in a dark grey with light blue/grey spotted white ties, which really complemented all the girls’ dresses. The boys also all wore Kurt Geiger tanned brogues.
When it came to the wedding photos we sought advice from our wedding co-ordinator and chose a local award-winning photographer known very well by the venue. Steven Taylor was superb from our first meeting to the end of our wedding day. He listened to our thoughts and did the most amazing job on the day with his son Josh and after receiving the proofs back recently, we understand why they are award-winning – they captured the whole day perfectly. We also had Silver Sixpence Films to capture the day on video for us.
On the day I carried a beautiful, opulent massed posy bouquet of ivory roses, lisianthus and gypsophila bound with ivory satin ribbon. They were provided by Kevin from Brackens of Bowness.
With us deciding on a romantic ivory and cream wedding, we opted to have tall vases for the reception centrepieces, filled with acorns with tall willow branches and hanging glass tea-light holders. On the other tables we had round shallow glass bowls filled with acorns and twisted ivory willow with a cluster of candles in the centre. Down the staircase we had willow and foliage wound down the banister with fairy lights intertwined. Kevin from Brackens of Bowness again supplied these stunning arrangements. He was amazing and listened to everything that I wanted to achieve. With Kevin’s talent and creativity he helped make the venue look like the fairy-tale wedding I had always dreamed of.
We didn’t do favours at the wedding breakfast. Instead we had personalised chocolate bars created for our family and friends who were staying at the hotel and placed them in their rooms for their arrival.
We opted for a four-course wedding breakfast. It took us a little while to decide on the menu as all of the food is so delicious and it is also locally sourced. In the evening, we had mini fish and chips served in traditional newspaper cones. It was all absolutely delicious!
We both enjoy music, so it featured heavily throughout the day. The thinking was to have very much beautiful and relaxing music, building as the day went on so we had a string quartet to entertain people before and after the ceremony. Andy recorded a live DJ mix for the wedding breakfast containing music from our favourite films interlaced with famous quotes from cinema.
To get the evening started, Andy had also prepared some warm up before a fantastic rock band called Blue Star Tattoo from West Yorkshire performed on the night with classics by AC/DC, ZZ Top and The Who, through to more current hits by The Killers, Kings of Leon and Arctic Monkeys. We chose this band as a nod to my Dad Geoff (and Andy’s Dad John) who both love rock and roll.
In the library we displayed family photos of our nearest and dearest to give a homely feel and also in remembrance to special people who could not be there with us that weekend. With candles lit and love quotes added around the fireplaces, it added to the romantic and relaxing ambience of the venue.
We used Purple Swan for the hire of our chair covers, which were white with crystal vintage brooches on ivory lace sashes and bows. The company were fabulous and made everything so easy and stress free by dressing the room the night before and they were so professional. I bought the lanterns and candles from the shop The Range in Leeds to add a touch of romance down the aisle as well.
We would most definitely recommend our venue to others. Everything about it is fabulous, from the views to the food, and the first class service. The venue has so much character, it still has many of the original features, which include magnificent fireplaces and gorgeous stained glass windows. We felt at home as soon as we walked in. No matter how many times you visit, when it’s time to go home, you just don’t want to leave.
My favourite part of the day was sitting down to eat the amazing food at the wedding breakfast next to my new husband and looking around at all of our favourite people in the world, all sat together and there just for us was simply the best feeling in the whole world.
We are planning to go on honeymoon to Santorini this summer to catch some sun and some amazing scenery, and as Andy is obsessed with sunsets (apparently they have some of the best in the world), we couldn’t think of anywhere more romantic to go.
My top tip to other Brides Up North is to make sure you enjoy the lead up to your wedding day, enjoy being engaged. The day itself goes so fast, I know it sounds cliché but it does so take time out with your new groom/bride for a few moments during the day and evening as you are both in demand and so busy. It’s lovely to have a few moments now and again to both look around and think – ‘This is our wedding day, how amazing is this?’
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May 22nd, 2015 | Julia Braime
That’s some pretty fierce sparkle, right there.
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