Hardwick Hall Grand Wedding Exhibition
Charlotte Balbier

by the sea. sophia tolli for an autumnal wedding at newton hall – amanda & phil

December 9th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

An Autumn Wedding at Newton Hall (c) Danny Birrell Photography (57)

Today’s real wedding couple love nothing more than escaping to the beach with their daughter for some quality family time. It was little surprise then that when a wedding venue by the sea was suggested, they booked it straight away.

Taking inspiration from the season, Philip and Amanda’s wedding day featured elegant autumnal touches including some rather unusual white pumpkins that are apparently only available for a few days of the year. Shame, they would suit our office perfectly!

With images by Danny Birrell Photography.

An Autumn Wedding at Newton Hall (c) Danny Birrell Photography (62)

amanda says: We got engaged on 7th December 2013, during a weekend away to York where we met at university (we now live in Whitley Bay). We went for a nice lunch and a few glasses of wine, and got all wrapped up to go for a walk around York. We were in the York Minster Gardens when Phil got down on one knee and popped the question, just as the minster bells began to chime. Everyone around us cheered and it was all very romantic. After seven years together of course I said yes.

An Autumn Wedding at Newton Hall (c) Danny Birrell Photography (65)

We were married on Sunday 18th October 2015. We knew we wanted an autumnal wedding, in October, as that was the month we met nine years previously.

We went for a look around As You Like It in Jesmond, Newcastle, and had a chat with them about their venue. They mentioned a sister venue, Newton Hall in Northumberland, were having an open day soon after, so we went there for a look around, fell in love and reserved the date that day! Newton Hall had a formal, yet relaxed atmosphere that we just loved! All of the little eccentricities just added to the character of the venue, and when we walked into the garden suite, we just knew it was perfect. It was an added bonus it has its very own beach close by!

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friday fabulous!

November 27th, 2015 | Julia Braime

Miss KG

fancy by name, fancy by nature!

Fancy by Miss KG at Kurt Geiger, £60 (sale price)

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pastels & peonies. mori Lee for an oh so pretty wedding at wynyard hall – caitlin & matthew

September 30th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

A Pretty Pastel Wedding at Wynyard Hall (c) Helen Russell Photography (73)

We love pink, we adore peonies and we’ve always got room for cake – these are just a few reasons why we fell head over heels for this morning’s real wedding (as we’re sure you will too) when it landed in our inbox.

Bride Caitlin wanted an elegant shabby chic feel to her big day and so teamed cute homemade decorative items with her favourite pastel tones of lemon and dusky pink.

The result is just beautiful and it’s not just the setting that looks stunning, for the wedding party themselves are pushing the bar high in the style stakes. We love the maids’ girly full-length dresses, the guys’ smart suits and of course Caitlin’s gorgeous Mori Lee lace dress, complete with a pretty bespoke belt.

With images by the fabulous Helen Russell Photography.

A Pretty Pastel Wedding at Wynyard Hall (c) Helen Russell Photography (1)

caitlin says: We got engaged at home, in our cosy little bungalow! Matthew decided to wine and dine me with a Chinese box from the supermarket (good job I love things like that!) and surrounded by candles he got down on one knee and popped the question! Matthew is not the type to make a scene in front of people in a posh restaurant, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

We set the date for Friday 10th July 2015. We were hoping it would be a perfect sunny day and luckily enough, it was!

A Pretty Pastel Wedding at Wynyard Hall (c) Helen Russell Photography (5)

Wynyard Hall was our chosen venue. I just loved the stately home, picturesque feel it had. The terrace out of the back had amazing views of the lake and it just felt perfect. The first time I visited I was with my mam and she loved it just as much as I did (good job Matthew liked it too!)

A Pretty Pastel Wedding at Wynyard Hall (c) Helen Russell Photography (4)

The theme I had in mind was a vintage, rustic, shabby chic theme. I love all things like this and we decided to make/source as many of the decorations we could ourselves. We recycled glass jars for months on end and decorated everyone differently! I made all of the save the dates, invitations, order of services and loved every minute! Not only did this keep costs down, but it also made things feel extra special.

Our colour scheme was pale lemon and dusty pink. I loved these pastel colours as I thought they were summery but classy!

A Pretty Pastel Wedding at Wynyard Hall (c) Helen Russell Photography (7)

I was lucky enough to find my amazing Mori Lee dress in a lovely little family run boutique called Dobinsons of Darlington. It was a beautiful mermaid style with lace detail throughout. Initially the dress had straps and I thought it didn’t suit me, however with a few changes to make it a sweetheart neckline, it was perfect! A friend of mine made my wedding belt and I wore Kurt Geiger sandals to complete my look.

A Pretty Pastel Wedding at Wynyard Hall (c) Helen Russell Photography (15)

Matthew wore a Paul Costello charcoal grey suit with faint checks from Slaters in Newcastle. He wanted a three piece suit with a waistcoat and wore a dusty pink tie, pocket watch and tan Ted Baker shoes!

All six of our bridesmaids wore gorgeous, floaty, one-shouldered, pale lemon dresses from Coast and the groomsmen wore charcoal suits, also from Slaters in Newcastle, with pale lemon ties and hessian flower shaped button holes.

A Pretty Pastel Wedding at Wynyard Hall (c) Helen Russell Photography (21)

Helen Russell was our photographer. Helen was absolutely amazing, she was the best photographer we could have asked for and made everyone feel so comfortable on the day. We loved the natural photographs Helen takes and we would 100 per cent recommend her to anyone. We had our pre wedding shoot the month before which made us so relaxed and excited for the day and are over the moon with all of our photographs!

A Pretty Pastel Wedding at Wynyard Hall (c) Helen Russell Photography (26)

When it came to the flowers, I carried dusty pink peonies with pale lemon roses and the bridesmaids and flower girl carried the same in smaller bouquets.

We wanted to keep with the peony theme in the décor and so used the same flowers in jugs placed on pieces of wood for the centrepieces along with rustic jars and candles. We also had single peonies and carnations in jars along the aisle and on the fireplaces at Wynyard. My family helped so much with sourcing the jars and centrepieces and made the day extra special.

For the reception we also hired chiavari chairs from The Finishing Touch Company, which made the rooms look perfect!

A Pretty Pastel Wedding at Wynyard Hall (c) Helen Russell Photography (28)

A Pretty Pastel Wedding at Wynyard Hall (c) Helen Russell Photography (69)

A Pretty Pastel Wedding at Wynyard Hall (c) Helen Russell Photography (72)

As favours we gave small jam jars filled with pink alcohol for the adults and filled with sweeties for the children. Also a chocolate truffle heart for an extra treat!

Our guests were also treated to an amazing cake table, made by Bernadette from Dreamworld Cakes in Newcastle. Our wedding cake had four tiers, two being Belgian chocolate and the other two being white chocolate and raspberry, it was then decorated with rustic theme in mind with peonies and raffia. We also had Baileys chocolate and Victoria sponge mini cakes, lemon and passion fruit cupcakes, cake pops and strawberry and pistachio macaroons!

A Pretty Pastel Wedding at Wynyard Hall (c) Helen Russell Photography (40)

For the entertainment we decided to hire wedding pianists, Daniel Ackerley and Martin Dack, who played throughout the ceremony and right through the wedding breakfast. We also had Paul Lytton who was a fantastic magician and The Ultimate Wedding DJ for the disco. As an extra special touch we also hired large ‘C & M’ letters from Coco Luminaire and a vintage photo booth from Snaparazzi.

A Pretty Pastel Wedding at Wynyard Hall (c) Helen Russell Photography (42)

A Pretty Pastel Wedding at Wynyard Hall (c) Helen Russell Photography (45)

I would recommend all of ours suppliers and also our venue to other couples. Our wedding coordinator Emily made the day go as smooth as possible and I felt confident everything would go to plan! Wynyard made our rooms look amazing and all the staff were friendly and helpful. We couldn’t have asked for a better venue!

A Pretty Pastel Wedding at Wynyard Hall (c) Helen Russell Photography (43)

It’s difficult to pick a favourite part of the wedding as the whole day was amazing, but I think it would be walking in to the conservatory being announced as Mr & Mrs Summerbell ready to cut the cake and have our first dance!

A Pretty Pastel Wedding at Wynyard Hall (c) Helen Russell Photography (77)

For our honeymoon we went to El Dorado Casitas Royale in Riveria Maya, Mexico! This place was heaven and we were so lucky so spend our honeymoon in such luxury! The restaurants were all a la carte and on the beach front, it was so relaxing and we would definitely revisit on our anniversary – one day! We are now expecting our first baby. After unexpectedly finding out on our honeymoon, we are so shocked but so excited and can’t wait for the future!

A Pretty Pastel Wedding at Wynyard Hall (c) Helen Russell Photography (78)

My top tip for other Brides Up North would be not to stress too much about all the tiny details leading up to the wedding, and for the groom I’d say try and help take some of this stress away from the bride! I was so worried about the room looking how I imagined however the staff at the venue were so good they made it look better than I ever could have. Brides and grooms should also try to take in as much of the day as possible as it goes so fast, enjoy every minute.

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coral & lace. a glam wedding with pops of peach on merseyside – emily & stephen

August 21st, 2015 | Rachel Parry

A Glam Coral Wedding at The Thistle (c) Rachel Victoria Photography (36)

We are loving bride Emily’s glamorous look in today’s real wedding. Her gorgeous slim fit, lace fishtail gown and long, tumbling, dark wavy locks remind us of recent celebrity bride Michelle Keegan, with both ladies looking stunning for their moment in the limelight.

The pretty continues throughout the Emily and Stephen’s glam wedding day in the summery colour scheme, chic décor and girly bridesmaid dresses. There’s also a rather pretty pooch involved in the proceedings too, the couple’s adorable pet dog Honey, who had her very own coral outfit made for the special occasion. Too cute!

With images by Rachel Victoria Photography.

A Glam Coral Wedding at The Thistle (c) Rachel Victoria Photography (4)

stephen says: We got engaged on 13th March 2013. I had the ring for some time and told pretty much everybody I knew I was going to do it, but swore everyone to secrecy. On the day, I took Emily to her bedroom where I had laid out rose petals on the floor in the shape of a heart with some candles to set the mood, with me knelt in the curvature of said heart. After her initial surprise followed an up roar of nervous laughter before my beautiful wife finally came to and said yes.

emily says: We chose the 26th June 2015 as our wedding date because we always wanted a summer wedding. We also chose this date because it was on a Friday, which meant we could have the weekend to ourselves and reflect on what an amazing day we had. The date was also exclusive to us, so we didn’t have to share our special day.

A Glam Coral Wedding at The Thistle (c) Rachel Victoria Photography (5)

We married at The Thistle in Haydock, Merseyside, which is a lovely hotel ten minutes away from Haydock Race Course. We chose this venue for a number of reasons as we wanted a marquee for our evening reception, but also a hotel so we could get ready there. Our main reason for picking it however, was because the hotel is dog friendly which meant we could have our most prized possession, Honey, with us on our big day and she could be a part of it too.

A Glam Coral Wedding at The Thistle (c) Rachel Victoria Photography (15)

Our theme for the wedding was a vintage/ fairy tale as we incorporated things like bird cages with tea lights in them, and picture frames that our guest could leave messages. We wanted our wedding to be simple and classic, yet pretty.

Our colour scheme was coral as we saw it as a summery, bright colour that would stand out. With having seven different bridesmaids with different hair colours to each other and different skin tones, we also felt this colour was one that would complement them all equally.

A Glam Coral Wedding at The Thistle (c) Rachel Victoria Photography (17)

I wore a fitted, lace fishtail dress with a sweetheart neckline and low back, with a simple belt with a classic bead embellishment in the centre. The dress, which was from Always and Forever Bridal Boutique in St. Helens, was perfect and meant so much to me as my nan bought it for me. I wore it with Christian Louboutin peep toe stiletto shoes and a handmade lace and blue garter made by Stephen’s mum, which made it even more personal! I also had a Tiffany & Co bracelet bought by Stephen, which I received as a gift before the wedding.

A Glam Coral Wedding at The Thistle (c) Rachel Victoria Photography (21)

Stephen bought a three piece suit from Slaters in Liverpool, and wore Kurt Geiger shoes, with a coral cravat. To accessorise Stephen had a pair of groom cufflinks and a Michael Kors watch, which I bought for him as a wedding gift. The best man and groomsmen wore the same suit as Stephen, each with personalised cufflinks and a coral cravat, again from Slaters.

We had seven bridesmaids that wore a one shoulder, floor length dress with a cascade of flowers on the shoulder strap. These dresses were purchased from an online boutique. We had a flower girl who wore an ivory dress with coral details and a big coral bow, made by the mother of the groom. Our pet dog Honey, had dress made also by the mother of the groom, to match the bridesmaids, and had a bow made for her hair to match.

A Glam Coral Wedding at The Thistle (c) Rachel Victoria Photography (24)

Our photographer was Rachel Butterworth of Rachel Victoria Photography, who did an amazing job on the day! I went to school with Rachel so automatically felt comfortable around her. I’d also been to events that Rachel had photographed before and the photos always looked perfect. Rachel even did an engagement photo shoot for us before the wedding, for us to get used to being in front of the camera. I was feeling quite nervous being photographed at first but instantly felt at ease with Rachel. We are so made up with our wedding photos they exceeded our expectations and we can’t stop looking at them!

A Glam Coral Wedding at The Thistle (c) Rachel Victoria Photography (25)

The flowers carried by my bridesmaids and I were made by our manager in work who does floristry on the side, we loved the personal touches she gave to them and how they complemented our theme and the bridesmaids’ dresses.

A Glam Coral Wedding at The Thistle (c) Rachel Victoria Photography (26)

To decorate the venue we had large martini glasses as our centre pieces with beautiful summer flower arrangements in done by Amore Flowers in Widnes, Cheshire. They were excellent and listened to exactly what we wanted.

A Glam Coral Wedding at The Thistle (c) Rachel Victoria Photography (47)

Our reception room was dressed by Angela of Chicks on Wheels, based in Widnes, who covered the chairs with white chair covers finished with a coral bow. On our entrance table we had a wishing well for cards to be put in and a wishing tree for our guest to hang well wishes on. Angela also did our candy cart which went down very well with our guests who defiantly had a sweet tooth!

On the entrance table was also a wooden frame with small wooden hearts for our guests to sign and post into the frame so that we can keep it forever as a statement piece in our home. My mum bought this for us as a gift.

A Glam Coral Wedding at The Thistle (c) Rachel Victoria Photography (30)

A Glam Coral Wedding at The Thistle (c) Rachel Victoria Photography (38)

We had personalised mirrors as favours for the women from Not On The High Street, which read ‘thank you for sharing our special day with us, Emily and Stephen’. We placed the mirrors in mini birdcage favours boxes to tie into our theme. We had tuxedo tins with mints in for the men and a children’s wedding colouring pack for the little ones.

We chose a four tier wedding cake with different shades of coral and peach flowers cascading down the side. The flavours of each tier were different: fruit, chocolate, lemon and strawberry. It was made by Cakes by Kerry, based in Widnes, who delivered it to the venue on the day. Stephen’s nan and granddad kindly bought us the cake.

A Glam Coral Wedding at The Thistle (c) Rachel Victoria Photography (41)

Entertainment was provided by The Thistle’s DJ, Ian Dutton, who was fab. He kept the guests on the dance floor with his eclectic mix of songs and guided us through the evening. At the reception, we also had a photo booth from Sunshine Events, with a selection of props, and we were given a copy of all the photos taken in the booth, presented to us in a book that we can keep.

The Thistle was an amazing – we cannot recommend it enough! The staff could not do enough for us, nothing was too much trouble. Our favourite part of the day would have to be the ceremony. We had been planning the wedding for two years and to finally be standing there saying ‘I do’ was the most amazing feeling.

A Glam Coral Wedding at The Thistle (c) Rachel Victoria Photography (44)

For our honeymoon, we went to Crete in Greece and stayed in the Thompson Sensatori five star hotel. We had our own private pool on the balcony, so we could relax in peace after all the wedding stress. We picked Greece as this was the first destination we went on holiday together, so it has many sentimental memories to us.

A Glam Coral Wedding at The Thistle (c) Rachel Victoria Photography (34)

Our top tip to other Brides Up North would be to enjoy the day and not worry about everyone else. You will only have one wedding day and it goes so quick so make to most of it!

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crafted with care. a pretty homemade wedding at priory cottages – jenny & james

August 18th, 2015 | Julia Braime

A Sweet Wedding at Priory Cottages (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (51)

Today’s real wedding is yet another carefully crafted beauty with lots of pretty homemade and personal touches created by talented bride Jenny, along with the help of her equally talented family.

Priory Cottages in North Yorkshire provided the perfect backdrop for the rustic theme Jenny had in mind, which featured lots of beautiful blooms in sweet, sugary tones.

And it wasn’t just the décor that the bride got crafty with, as Jenny made her own hair flower accessory and gorgeous statement necklace to complete her modern big day look. Fabulous work girl!

With images by Hayley Baxter Photography.

A Sweet Wedding at Priory Cottages (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (3)

jenny says: We got engaged in Malta. James and I love our cheeky getaways. I had no idea that on this particular one he planned to propose, it was such a lovely surprise! The proposal was very ‘us’ – low key and nothing extravagant. It was our first full day there, we were having a great day exploring the town, lunch and drinks by the sea and we had headed back to our hotel to get ready for the evening and have a few drinks on the balcony. I remember laughing and joking and saying what a perfect start to the holiday it had been, next thing I know James had disappeared and when he returned he was down on one knee asking if I’d be his wifey – it was perfect!

We chose to get married on 13th June 2015 as it was exactly two years to the date we got engaged.

A Sweet Wedding at Priory Cottages (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (2)

Our chosen venue was The Priory Cottages in North Yorkshire. Working in the wedding industry myself I read a lot of wedding blogs. This venue has always stood out to me as something special and it was the first place I mentioned to James when we got engaged. When we went to take a look around, I fell more in love with it and James had a cheeky little smile on his face. We both knew it was perfect and could see our special day taking place there.

A Sweet Wedding at Priory Cottages (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (1)

We didn’t have a theme as such, but I have always wanted a ‘handmade’ wedding. I love making things and being creative so I literally saw it as a blank canvas that I could do all the things I love to. The result was quite a rustic-styled day.

We were not really strict on a colour scheme; it kind of just fell into place. I always wanted the boys to wear blue suits as I just think they look great. This helped me to decide on nude tones for the girls’ dresses then I pulled in my two favourite colours – coral and mint – and combined it with lots of peaches and whites.

A Sweet Wedding at Priory Cottages (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (7)

My dress was literally the dress I always said I would never wear! So many of my friends said to me before I started looking to keep an open mind but I went to one bridal shop in particular because they stocked a gorgeous Mori Lee gown I had pinned as my dream dress for the past five or so years, even before we were engaged! I tried it on and whilst it was nice, it wasn’t wow. The lovely lady in the bridal shop made me try on ‘the dress’ just to see what it looked like. I wasn’t keen but I tried it on and it felt amazing! It made my mum cry so I knew it was the one!

To go with my dress, I scoured the internet and shops constantly to find the perfect hair flower. I couldn’t find one that I liked in the end so I thought why not make my own! I created it using some gorgeous silk flowers from Country Baskets, a hair slide and some small brooches to sit inside the flowers as the centre. I bound it with florist wire and ribbon. I also created a statement necklace by combining two necklaces from Marks & Spencer. I wore my outfit with some gold Kurt Geiger shoes.

My hairdresser’s partner specialises in wedding hair (they work at Fusion Hair Design) so he did mine and the girls’ hair. He did a fantastic job! My cousin Abi is a makeup artist so she did our makeup. Abi is so talented at what she does and I was so pleased with the finished look. The bridesmaids looked stunning and it lasted all day despite the hot weather.

A Sweet Wedding at Priory Cottages (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (24)

We wanted to buy suits rather than hire. James wore a three piece from Slaters. It was a very fine puppytooth patterned blue suit. He wore with a tailored white shirt and a pale pink tie to match the bridesmaids. On his feet he wore some tan brogues which complemented the suit perfectly. The groomsmen wore the same suits and shoes as James but wore with a matching blue tie instead of pink.

A Sweet Wedding at Priory Cottages (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (28)

The girls wore gorgeous pale pink dresses from Untold at House of Fraser. I wanted to get something they could wear again rather than a traditional bridesmaid dress. They were teamed with gold heels similar to mine from New Look.

A Sweet Wedding at Priory Cottages (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (35)

Hayley Baxter was our photographer. When we initially began looking we were steering clear of the very formal styles as we both are not the biggest fan of being photographed and much prefer the more relaxed, creative style that Hayley produced.

We would 100% recommend Hayley. She has such a lovely personality – very warm and friendly. She instantly made us both feel at ease like we’d known her for years and she managed to produce the most amazing collection of natural photographs that we really never thought would be possible!

A Sweet Wedding at Priory Cottages (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (38)

I had the bright idea of doing all the wedding flowers myself soon after we got engaged. I spent months and months researching and trying to figure out how it would work and eventually came across an amazing woman through a website called Flowers from the Farm. Gill runs her own flower farm not far from where we live so after a quick visit to see her and discuss, everything was confirmed and I was all set to pick up eight big buckets of freshly cut flowers two days before the wedding.

I really enjoyed making the bouquets and buttonholes. I used roses in peach and pink shades with white peonies and coral berries to add more colour. I finished them with some foliage and wrapped with jute string. For the buttonholes I used blues and green. The focal flower was nigella, which I absolutely love! I wrapped them with a small piece of hessian and they were secured with a heart pin.

A Sweet Wedding at Priory Cottages (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (18)

A Sweet Wedding at Priory Cottages (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (8)

A Sweet Wedding at Priory Cottages (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (15)

For the table centrepieces my dad made us some amazing wooden log stands on two levels. I decorated and sprayed bottles with lace, hessian, ribbon and filled with flowers. Also I decorated jam jars as tea light holders and made hessian table circles for everything to sit on decorated with hearts punched from woodgrain card, Kraft card and an atlas. For the top table we had a hollowed out log filled with the left over flowers that my aunties helped with the day before – it looked amazing and was one of my favourite pieces from the day!

A Sweet Wedding at Priory Cottages (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (39)

I have my own wedding stationery business, Only by Knight, so I created all the on-the-day stationery/invites etc. myself.

My dad wanted to bring a little bit of Liverpool to our Yorkshire wedding so we gave the gents a Liverpool ale as favours and the ladies got a bottle of fizz.

A Sweet Wedding at Priory Cottages (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (10)

We had the most amazing wedding cake. I’m lucky enough to have a very creative family; it must run in our blood! My cousin runs a small cake business, Betty and Junes Bakery. She is amazing, super talented and I knew straight away I wanted her to make our cake as her creativity is endless!

I’m not the biggest fan of traditional wedding cakes so straight away knew I’d want something a little different. I love the hand painted cake styles and to fit in with our rustic theme we decided we would like the tiers to resemble logs. That was literally the brief I gave to Katie and she really excelled! It was absolutely exquisite from the cute love heart to the handmade sugar flowers. Each tier of the cake was a different flavour; we had lemon drizzle with jam and butter cream, raspberry and white chocolate and a chocolate layer. It was finished up with some fresh flowers and a laser cut cake topper that I sourced from Etsy.

A Sweet Wedding at Priory Cottages (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (47)

We used Taste Cuisine as our caterers. They are really are amazing at what they do. James is from Leeds and I am originally from Liverpool so for the canapés we had mini ‘pans’ of scouse and beef with Yorkshire puds along with a couple of others. For the wedding breakfast we had a Greek mezze platter, followed by lamb shank then a mix of two desserts (three layer chocolate torte and white chocolate cheesecake) as they were just too good to choose between!

A Sweet Wedding at Priory Cottages (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (53)

Straight away we knew we wanted a band to provide entertainment. I stumbled across The One Step through Warble Entertainment and I was just drawn towards them. The lead singer Nick also did acoustic sets so we had him singing through the drinks reception and the wedding breakfast. Our friends and family absolutely loved him. They were great as a three piece too. Everyone was up dancing and having fun, and we especially enjoyed our rendition of Mr Brightside at the end to close the show!

A Sweet Wedding at Priory Cottages (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (17)

In terms of special touches, the table plan was one of my favourite pieces from the day! My dad made us the giant frame and I decorated with flower garlands. Each table was named after a place James and I had visited together. The board had an envelope for each guest with a postcard inside that I’d created of an image of James and I in that particular location. We asked our guests to write us a message on the reverse and pin it back to the table plan so it doubled up as our guest book. I am going to make it into a piece of wall art now so we have a constant interactive reminder of the day. My dad also made us the sign for outside the venue; I made stencils and spray-painted the wording onto it. I decorated with flower garlands again and it was a great touch to the exterior of the venue.

A Sweet Wedding at Priory Cottages (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (58)

We would 100% recommend our venue to others. Serena first off is one incredible woman! She was always on hand to help with whatever we needed and she really helped us to pull everything together ready for the big day. The venue itself is absolutely stunning. The fact it has the cottages built around it made it such a memorable weekend, not only for us but for our bridal party as we all got to experience everything together.

Funnily enough the part of the wedding I was dreading the most was, the ceremony, turned out to be one of my favourite bits. I’m naturally quite a shy person so the thought of everyone looking at me whilst me and pops made our way up the aisle filled me with dread and I really thought I would be a blubbering mess. But I really did enjoy it and no tears were shed! That along with the speeches – which were just fantastic – and seeing all of our friends and family laughing, joking and having the best time together was really special.

A Sweet Wedding at Priory Cottages (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (56)

For our honeymoon we decided to go to Central America. We both love to travel and James has been around the world. We went to Costa Rica and Panama. It was the most amazing experience. We saw and did so much in two and a half weeks and have memories that we can now cherish forever.

A Sweet Wedding at Priory Cottages (c) Hayley Baxter Photography (60)

My top tip to other Brides Up North is – be organised! We had two years between our engagement and big day. I bought a wedding planner book, created a budget spreadsheet but still life got in the way occasionally and it was quite stressful getting everything ready towards the end! Also get stuck in! Try to personalise your day as much as you can so it’s meaningful to you and your groom. I can’t tell you how great it feels to sit back on the day and look at everyone admiring all the hard work you’ve put in. It was a very proud moment! Finally, accept help! I can be a terrible control freak and like to do everything myself in my own way, sometimes you need to let go and accept that it’s just not possible! Besides you’ll find that a lot of your friends and family want to get involved and help. I would never have finished setting up on time without the help of my nearest and dearest the day before, they were all incredible!

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wild at heart. a shabby chic wedding at chester zoo – sam & dan

July 28th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

A Shabby Chic Wedding at Chester Zoo (c) Yana Photography (42)

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.

A Shabby Chic Wedding at Chester Zoo (c) Yana Photography (1)

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.

A Shabby Chic Wedding at Chester Zoo (c) Yana Photography (4)

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.

A Shabby Chic Wedding at Chester Zoo (c) Yana Photography (6)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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