April 22nd, 2015 | Julia Braime
Today on the wedding blog we’re heading to one of my favourite parts of the country to relive Mikki and Mark’s wonderful big day.
This stylish couple hired an entire venue in the Lake District for their intimate celebration that brimmed with elegance, class and romance.
I especially love that Mikki and Mark chose to have one big banqueting table for their wedding meal to make it more like a relaxed family affair than a formal occasion.
Oh, and can we all just take a minute to admire those fabulous flowers. Just lovely.
mikki says: We got engaged on 2nd October 2013 when we were on holiday in Menorca (which is our special place to relax). After a beautiful day lying on the beach having a picnic we went for a meal in a seafood restaurant at the top of a hill. We had the whole place to ourselves and Mark proposed in between courses. I couldn’t believe it, I was so overwhelmed. Obviously I said yes straight away.
We chose the 6th December for our wedding. I absolutely love winter and I thought it would be such a magical time for a wedding. I loved the thought of lots of candles and romantic lighting and what better time of year for that!
We got married at Broadoaks Country House in Windermere, Lake District. We love the lakes so much and it’s always a place we like to go. When we went to view the venue we knew straight away it was the one. It was perfect for the intimate wedding we were after. We hired the whole place which meant the whole wedding party could stay over.
We wanted the day to feel warm and welcoming. We didn’t have a theme as such but I wanted it to be romantic. The style was very romantic and our flowers were ivory and blush roses with gypsophila free flowing around the table surrounded by lots of candles. As we wanted an intimate setting we decided to have a banquet table so everyone was sat together.
Our colour scheme was navy, grey and blush. We picked it because it was quite a wintery combination and the blush just added a girly and warm touch.
My dress was from 7th Heaven Bridal in Congleton and the designer was Justin Alexander. It was a lovely lace mermaid gown that has a bateau neckline. It came with a detachable train with matching appliques which Helen from 7th Heaven turned into a veil for me.
Mark wore a navy three piece lounge which was from Marks & Spencer and the groomsmen wore navy suits too to tie in with him.
On the morning of the wedding I got ready at the Macdonald hotel in Windermere along with my bridesmaids. When it was time to go to the wedding venue my father-in-law drove me and my dad in his car. It was a nice touch to begin the day. My sister-in-law’s husband drove the bridesmaids.
Our photographers are very good friends of ours, Evie and Jamie Wroe from Chapter Photography. It was the obvious choice for us, their work is amazing and they make you feel so relaxed and comfortable.
My flowers were a mix of ivory and blush roses with gypsophila running through by Red Floral Architecture – again, an obvious choice for us as I love their work so much.
Red Floral Architecture also did out the whole wedding venue with flowers and decorations. We had a banquet table which was full of roses and gypsophila and lots of floating candles. It was such a stunning table, we couldn’t have asked for anything better.
Some of our friends call us M&M (Mark & Mikki) so we thought it would be funny to actually get personalised M&M chocolates for our favours. We also has a mini Laurent Perrier Champagne for everyone.
Caroline of Caroline’s Cake Company did our cake. We couldn’t decide which flavour to have as they all tasted so good. In the end we had three flavours: ginger, lemon and chocolate. We had lots of cupcakes and a traditional top tier.
As a little extra we had a sweet table go alongside the wedding cupcakes and instead of a guest book we had a signing frame. Next to these we had pictures of our parents from the day they got married.
In the evening we hired a DJ for our entertainment. We also wanted to add a little something different to the evening so we went with a cartoonist called Robin Grenville-Evans to draw all of our guests. This went down really well as everyone had something to remember the wedding by.
We would absolutely recommend our venue to anyone who wants a magical romantic feel to their wedding. It’s great for small wedding parties like ours as you can hire the whole place. It’s like having your own private house. I also would recommend all of our suppliers as they were all so, so helpful. My hair piece was custom made from Ann McKavney Eleventh Heaven, Love Gets Sweeter did our videography, Flossy and Leigh did our hair and makeup andSteve Lewis was our DJ.
The day was so perfect I don’t think I could actually pick one part that was my favourite. Obviously marrying my best friend was a pretty special part!
We haven’t had our main honeymoon yet, we are going to Dubai and the Maldives in May. We had a minimoon the day after the wedding. We went to Loch Lomond in Scotland for three nights. It was just a complete chill out, we went to the spa and ate lots of lovely food. It was a great time just to sit back and relax after all the planning. It is a special place to us as it’s the first place Mark ever took me when we were dating, so we thought it perfect to be the first place we go as a newly married couple.
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be something that a lot of people told me to do – take a minute to look around at everything on the day and take it all in. It’s surprising what you don’t see because you’re on such a high! This really was a great tip. Also take time out, just five minutes or so with your husband, again to take it all in. The day really does go so fast, I didn’t want it to end!
March 20th, 2015 | Julia Braime
In the latest instalment of our wedding alphabet on the blog we wrote about love and urged brides-to-be to remember the real reason they’re tying the knot when in the midst of the planning pressure.
Today’s couple are a great example of how couples can enjoy the tasks that come with organising a wedding whilst also truly reflecting their love for one another, and those closest to them, on the big day itself.
Leigh and Ben (and Leigh’s mum) certainly made the most of the wedding planning with numerous fun days out to piece together their perfect wedding in the Lake District. The celebrations then featured special gifts, personalised vows and surprise readings to make for one incredibly loved-up big day.
Can you feel the love?
With images by Dave Greaves Photography.
leigh says: We got engaged in the Lake District. After a gorgeous walk along Lake Windermere and a picnic Ben pulled out 12 gerbera flowers, each with a brown parcel tag attached and on them was each month we’d been together and a special memory from that month. Of course, by now, the butterflies had started fluttering about in my stomach, wondering what all this effort was for! Ben asked me to go and stand by the lake for a photo, and as we’d been setting the camera up with the tripod all week, I thought nothing of it so went to stand with my toes in the lake – turned around and there he was on one knee with my ring in a beautiful glass box filled with rose petals. Needless to say I cried and Ben got the whole thing on film.
We chose to set the date for 16th August 2014, at 2pm, because it was the exact time and date that Ben proposed the year before. Allowing a year gave us just the right amount of time to plan and organise everything that we wanted without having to wait too long!
Since I was little, the Lake District has always had a special place in my heart and Silverholme was everything we could have wanted and more in a venue. It was our home for the week of the wedding and could not have been more perfect: immaculate and intricate detail and décor, breath-taking views, right on the lake, gorgeous grounds and most of all, enough rooms and space to accommodate all of our family and bridal party members. It allowed us to enjoy the set up over a few days and dine together, and most certainly laugh together! There are some very amusing photos somewhere of my brother pretending to set up the whole wedding singlehandedly!
We wanted a wedding that would be us, and represent us as a couple. With that in mind, we didn’t necessarily go for a theme of sorts, just classic, elegant and natural. There were a few items to tie it to the Lake District running through that were made from maps. My mother and I made 50 gift bags and confetti cones out of old maps, which took what seemed like forever but we just loved the time together!
I’ve always been a pink girl at heart, so we decided on dusky pink and grey as our colour theme. I originally wanted the bridesmaids in the pink, but we just couldn’t find anything in the exact colour we wanted, unless we were going to pay extortionate amounts so in the end we accented everything with the pink, but the bridesmaids wore grey, like the groomsmen. These colours were also reflected in our invites, which Ben and I designed together, and then he and his mother sat for a few hours, meticulously making sure all corners and edges were perpendicular and equal distances from each other as they made them.
My dress was actually my second dress! In my ‘I’m-newly-engaged-and-so-excited-to-be-married-I-want-a-dress-now!’ state, we went to a factory retail store where I could try on loads of dresses. I’d convinced myself that I didn’t need the whole bridal boutique experience, and was just so eager to get a dress, I ended up buying a princess style dress with huge tulle skirt and feathers on the bust. It was lovely but by Christmas I’d decided I hated it! So, my parents, who have the most patience in the world came with me for a whole day of five boutique appointments back to back. Thankfully after trying on every single style imaginable I had an idea of what I wanted. Lots of internet browsing, a few emails later and I walked into Adele Louise Bridal, tried on a sample of the dress I’d tracked down as perfect and wow! It could not have fitted more perfectly, or looked more ‘me’. It was the 8659 design by Justin Alexander. Adele looked after me very well, and I loved the bridal boutique experience so much!
I bought a gorgeous pair of dusky pink diamante shoes from Black Sand by Dune. They glistened every time they caught the light. I didn’t want my jewellery to detract from the dress so I found a simple diamond and pearl drop earring and necklace set in Cupitt jewellers, in Bromsgrove. My parents got me a delicate pearl bracelet for Christmas, to match.
The final piece I bought was my hairpiece. I had seen one similar, but anyone that knows me well will understand why I had a hard time coming to terms with paying more for a giant hair clip than for a pair of KG’s! Luckily for me, a friend of mine, Melonie Jane, is a jewellery maker and made me my own version for a fraction of the price! It was so lovely to know that it was a one off and tied in with the whole outfit so perfectly.
All of the above was classed as my ‘Something New’; my ‘Something Old’ was my Nan’s brooch, which was incorporated into my bouquet to make her a part of the day; my ‘Something Borrowed’ was my other Nan’s brooch, also attached to my bouquet; and my ‘Something Blue’ was my garter.
Ben wears a suit for work every single day, therefore he wanted something different for the wedding that would make him feel special. We had two choices – the country style tweed look, or the top hat and tails get up. Nothing about the tweed went with anything we had set our hearts on, and wasn’t really Ben at all. He had his heart set on tails from the start and, after scouring a few wedding fayres, we found his perfect suit, which he hired from 1860. I safely steered him away from the idea of a top hat. Little did I know though that on the day Ben had chosen to wear a little something else under his suit, which he and the other groomsmen revealed in an excellent photo. Each one of them ripped open their shirts to reveal a superhero T-shirt, then set about different poses that had every guest, and me, in absolute stitches!
The groomsmen all had matching suits from 1860, separating them apart from Ben with the colour of their waistcoats.
My best friend Heather, sister-in-law-to-be Jenna, and sister-in-law-on-the-day Lou, were my gorgeous bridesmaids. We had a really fun day out trying dresses on together, and eventually, after some more online searching, came to the floor length grey designs from House Of Fraser. They looked gorgeous in them. We teamed them with some heels from Dune. On the morning of the wedding I gave them all a gift box to say thank you and inside there was: a Fossil purse (each individualised to their taste), a photo from the hen do in a frame, a pair of grey pearl earrings, a grey pearl necklace that I had made for each of them, a pink pashmina, in case they got cold and a pair of pretty flat sandals too, for when their feet got tired.
Dave Greaves was our amazing photographer. We first met him for our engagement shoot just outside of Lakeside, he put us at ease and produced some beautiful, natural photos of the two of us just being us. Every single bit of contact was responded to swiftly and he was extremely accommodating in capturing the types of shots we asked for. As for the photos of the day itself, they tell the story of the day so perfectly. From the silliness and giddiness of the bridal suite, the tears and laughter of the ceremony, the stunning couple shots and the fun of the first dances. We cannot recommend Dave highly enough.
I’m not a fan of flowers at all. That said, my parents are florists and own Danckert’s Florist (maybe I just grew up around so many flowers that I didn’t learn to appreciate them). So originally I wasn’t going to have flowers at all, but one day, when scrolling through my daily dose of wedding blogs, I fell in love with a very whimsical, unstructured bouquet that had trailing ivory and millet hanging gracefully down that I spotted on Brides Up North. I sent a picture to my Mom, who then mocked up my perfect bouquet, incorporating raspberry roses and gerberas into the mix. Simple, elegant and slightly whimsical – me to a tee! The centrepiece decorations were designed around large, silver candlesticks and matched my bouquet perfectly.
Whenever we visit The Lakes, we always make a trip into Hawkshead to visit Hawkshead Relish. Their jams and chutneys are delicious so we bought mini jams and chutneys as favours and attached a little tag with a poem on it.We put them in the bags that Mom and I had squirrelled away over and attached a photo of each guest as a child in a little frame to the top. When everyone arrived at the meal, there wasn’t a seating plan, just a case of finding their childhood memory and sitting down. So many guests said they loved the idea!Also in the bags were Help For Heroes key rings. Ben’s brother is part of the army and had recently completed a tour in Afghanistan where we all worried about him non-stop, so we thought it fitting to donate the money to a cause close to our hearts.
As neither of us are cake fans, we decided not to have one! Instead, we had a cheese tower that my Mom sourced from Ansteys Cheese. We had layers of Brie, Wensleydale and Cranberry, Cheddar, Stilton, and Garlic Roule, which my mom entwined with roses and ivy, served with some quirky crackers, biscuits and Hawkshead Relish chutneys.
For something sweet I went to Chesters By the River, where Ben had our proposal lunch from, and picked up a selection of their sweet things then chopped them into smaller pieces and set them out on slate platters. Ben’s sister, and my bridesmaid, Lou, who is an amazing baker, also made us a selection of delicious cupcakes.
On our first trip to The Lakes as a couple, we went with my parents to The Brown Horse at Winster, where they’ve been going for food for many years. We decided we wanted to give our nearest and dearest a proper Lake District experience and take them to a traditional pub for our food for the day. At 5pm we all boarded a coach at the top of the drive and had a scenic trip over to Winster, where the staff were absolutely amazing. The food was out of this world amazing. We then made our way back to the coach for the return journey, which was slightly more alcohol fuelled than the first leg.
Rustic Roast Kitchen, my best friend Heather’s company, provided our canapés. She and the ever so helpful bridesmaids helped to prepare it all on the morning; they were absolutely delicious, and there was not a single morsel left in sight! We also put on a free bar, provided by Bar Thirty Two, for all of our guests.
We love a night out at The Jam House, Birmingham. Dino Baptiste plays there regularly, and whips the crowds up into a right frenzy with his eclectic style and well-chosen repertoire of songs. We booked him pretty much straight away. With only having a small room and a small amount of people, we didn’t want a full band, and Dino and his drummer, Matt Tovey, did a sterling job. We were dancing all night long. During the break, my Dad dropped out that we are an acoustic duo and they even let me sing an impromptu song for Ben!
We organised a few special touches and gifts for our nearest and dearest to thank them for their support. As well as the gifts for the bridesmaids on the morning of the wedding I’d laid out matching outfits for the girls and both mothers outside all of their rooms – PJ bottoms, a white vest top and a hoodie with their names in diamantes on the back. I had also hung everyone’s outfits up on their own pretty, personalised hangers that I got from my own company, LoveLeigh Designs. I sent the groomsmen gifts of superhero socks and attached each guy’s favourite alcohol miniature to them.
Ben sent me over a gift – a beautiful pearl earring and necklace set and card. The words had me in floods of tears – good job it was pre-make up! I also sent him a gift – a leather overnight bag that he could keep and use forever. We bought special thank you gifts for our parents too.
I’d recommend our wedding venue to anyone. If you want a wedding based around family, where everyone can be together in drop dead gorgeous surroundings, relax in luxury and plan your day your way, then Silverholme is the right choice.
It’s so hard to pinpoint one favourite part of the wedding day! I can tell you that we made the most of every single opportunity to celebrate the occasion – my mom and I had so many days out, lunches, and so on together. The family time the planning created was magical. Ben and I did every ounce of planning together, all decisions were the both of us, and we made some great days out together because of it too – every part of the lead up was exciting and full of fun.
The day after the wedding we met everyone still staying in the area for a ‘dip’ in the lake then went to Go Ape. We finished the night off with a barbecue and opening of our cards and gifts. Perfect end to a perfect week.
We had a one night mini-moon in a gorgeously quirky favourite Lakeland place of mine called Randy Pike where Andy and Chrissy looked after us like family. Our official honeymoon will be in Chicago to go and visit my godparents who couldn’t make it to the wedding – we have yet to organise it!
My top tip to other Brides Up North is enjoy and savour every moment of everything. From the planning to the saying thank you at the end. Do things together and acknowledge each other’s differences in opinion and see how you can combine both ideas to come together with something even better – it all works out in the end. Stay true to ‘your day, your way,’ and it will be.
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December 17th, 2014 | Julia Braime
What I love most about my job as editor of these pretty pages is the variety of stunning and special celebrations that I get to witness, albeit through a set of wonderfully curated images or a snappy wedding film. I’ll be honest: sometimes I cry (in a good way).
One such submission that really touched me was the beautiful wedding blessing of ex-pats Heather and Mike, who returned to the UK following their Dubai wedding to celebrate with those they’d left back on English soil. Their [pared down ‘second’ wedding day is stripped back to all that really matters on a wedding day – two people in love, their nearest and dearest (plus a killer gown, some great heels and a stunning backdrop always help).
I think it’s utterly beautiful.
With images by Melissa Beattie Photography.
heather says: We got engaged in October 2013 in Dubai where we live. I’d gone back to the UK to visit family and Mike used his time to go ring shopping. Mike proposed to me with a cup of tea (and a stunning ring) as I woke up the morning after a late arrival back into Dubai.
We actually got married on 6 April 2014 in Dubai but we wanted to have a Wedding Blessing and a celebration with our friends and family in the UK who could not make it. The blessing took place on 12 July 2014. As we are both teachers the dates for both events were rather un-romantically dictated by term time (and the hope of decent weather).
The Blessing service took place at St. Cuthbert’s Church, Edenhall, near Penrith. We chose this venue as it is a short walk from the family home where I grew up and where my family still live. It was a ultimately an easy decision as it is a beautiful church, in a beautiful setting next to the Eden River and with a stunning view of the Pennines.
After organising one wedding in Dubai, we were very lucky for our family to take charge of events in the UK. An evening party was held after the service on the ‘Raven’ Steamer on Ullswater Lake which was the brainchild of my Godmother Paula. Along with the jazz band that played throughout the evening.
We wanted the celebration to be laid back and relaxed. The overall aim was for us all to have a good time and catch up.
I wore the same dress as I did for the wedding in Dubai much to the envy of many friends as I had the opportunity to wear it for a second time. The dress was handmade and embroidered by Lily Duds Tailoring, Dubai. The beauty of having the dress handmade was that I was able to get the dress just as I wanted and combine a variety of different designs I liked.
My Jimmy Choo heels brought an extra sparkle to my outfit and were even comfy enough to wear for the walk to and from the church.
I carried three hand tied peonies. Aunty Gillian and family friend, Yvonne Marples, arranged the flowers on the day. They wonderfully captured our relaxed theme through the flowers by creating a wild, country garden feel.
Melissa Beattie was the photographer. She was also the photographer for our wedding in Dubai. We loved her photographs from this so much that we bullied her into taking the shots for the Wedding Blessing.
Her work is intimate, natural and she has a wonderful ability to make us look fabulous! We ultimately considered her one of our guests due to her warm and friendly manner.
She took a great deal of time and effort to ensure we got exactly what we wanted and edited and designed our wedding album beautifully
Hair and make-up was by Bridget Foster, Carlisle. Bridget is an excellent make up artist, who has a subtle touch and eye for detail, as well as having a wonderful personality.
We actually only just made it to our own Wedding Blessing! Our passports were caught up in the fiasco with the UK Passport agency and were with the passport agency for 10 weeks and only arrived in Dubai 5 days before we were due to fly. A thank you to Rory Stewart, MP, and his office for all their help in chasing this matter!
A 1969 Red Double Decker Bus was hired from Stagecoach to take the guests and us to and from Glenridding Pier, to board the steamer.
Our favourite part of the day was simply being with family and friends, some of whom we had not seen in many years.
The steamer on the lake is a beautiful experience and loved by all of our guests. The scenery makes for a simply stunning backdrop – especially for us who spend most of our time looking at sand!
Due to the limitations for catering on the steamer itself, we went for canapés and mini meals from Bakerwood Marquees and Events who far exceeded our expectations. The food was fresh, delicious, plentiful and was provided to our guest by a very attentive team of waiters.
We created personalised brown Mr and Mrs sweetie bags, which contained personalised rock and Love Hearts sweets.
The Dixie Kings Jazz Band was chosen for the evening to suit setting of cruising down Ullswater lake. They provided fabulous entertainment, loved by the old and the young, and we all danced the night away.
We honeymooned in Zanzibar, which provided an ideal balance between relaxation and adventure.
My top tip for other Brides Up North is to enjoy the day! It is about you both not everybody else.
December 11th, 2014 | Julia Braime
Just how adorable is today’s beautiful bride? Jennifer and Andrew’s pretty wedding in the Lakes is full of wide smiles, cute touches and some rather chic styling.
With images by Jenny Winstone Photography.
jennifer says: Andrew proposed to me on a Tuesday evening, 19th March 2013. I’d just got home after a post-work gym session and the house was covered in candles. Andrew had music playing, my favourite meal on the table and wine… then he got down on one knee. It was all incredibly romantic and a complete surprise.
We chose 30th August 2014 for the wedding day. We wanted a summer wedding.
We got married in our home town of Barrow-in-Furness. The ceremony took place in Andrew’s family church St Marys at 3.30pm. We wanted a late wedding to give the day a more relaxed feel. Rather than a traditional sit down meal we opted for a party vibe for the wedding reception that took place at The Crofters.
Our wedding had a rustic vintage style. I spent hours looking on Pinterest for wedding ideas and I loved all the vintage decorations. After a wedding planning meeting with my mum she was off collecting all sorts of trinkets and vintage items.
The colours we used were ivory, lace, champagne and blush. I fell in love with the bridesmaid dresses and worked from there in regards to colour scheme.
I wore a simple but elegant Charlie Brear gown from The White Closet, Didsbury. This was the first dress I tried on and I loved it, but I thought I had to try on a million other dresses just to make sure it was ‘the one’. I should have trusted my instinct because I went back for the first dress I tried on and I’m so glad I did. My shoes were by Freya Rose – Mio.
Andrew wore a suit from Mister Mister, Barrow in Furness.
The bridesmaids and two flower girls wore dresses which were concessions via the BHS website.
I picked a hand tie bouquet with a very loose garden feel to it, made up of blush colours, roses, alstromeria, veronica peonies and gysophila to tie in with my bridesmaid dresses. The design was tied with vintage lace from Posh Flowers, Barrow in Furness.
For our photography we chose the talented Jenny Winstone, I would highly recommend her. She captured the moments beautifully. Jenny made me feel relaxed throughout the day, all my bridesmaids and family loved her too. Jenny built such a good rapport straight away.
My mum and sister helped massively with decoration for the wedding reception. We used a mixture of professionally arranged flowers, flowers from a friend’s garden and some foraged wild flowers and greenery – we really wanted to give a rustic vintage feel. My sister made the bridesmaids bouquets using gyposphilia. My mum covered the walls with old family wedding photographs. Many friends and family members were roped in to help with paper pom-poms and bunting. We wanted to do as much ourselves as possible.
We had a wedding cake made by Andrew’s sister and we had professional decorative cupcakes, in keeping with the vintage theme on the tables supplied by Christene Dacre.
We had vintage sweets for the guests to take home. Guests were also given ice cream tokens for the ice cream cart we had hired.
My friend Amy sang our first song, while her husband Jay played the guitar.
My husband is in a band so we hired a small marquee in the garden and his band played. It was great to see all of our family and friends dancing together, having fun. It was a last minute addition to the wedding, and stressful finding a marquee, but it was totally worth it in the end.
My dad also got on stage with the bridesmaids to sing us a special song, which was hilarious!
For me the favourite part of the day was the morning, the build up and excitement. I was surrounded by all of my best friends and I was so excited to walk down the aisle and see Andrew. It was the happiest day of my life.
For our honeymoon we spent 4 weeks in America. We flew in to San Francisco, hired a car to drive to Los Angeles, carried on to Las Vegas and ended the honeymoon by flying to New York. It was amazing. We really took full advantage of our newlywed status and got spoilt rotten. The whole trip was like a dream.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be don’t fret about anything, none of it matters on the day.
September 15th, 2014 | Rachel Parry
The unique venue for Ben and Amanda’s well-planned wedding is what made their big day really stand out to me. The couple and their guests partied through to the small hours in beautifully decorated tipis pitched next to the picturesque back-drop of Lake Coniston. Stunning, just stunning!
Better yet, they stretched their wedding celebrations across three days (hell yeah!) to take full advantage of the breathtaking location.
The couple’s rustic barn/tea party theme came together perfectly with wonderful décor, individual touches and a mouth-watering menu, which was rounded-off with one heck of a party.
So let’s dive straight into the magic with details of the couple’s engagement.
With images by James Stewart Photograpy.
Amanda says: We got engaged on June 26, 2012. Ben chose this date as it’s his birthday and says it’s the only day of the year that he gets to choose what we do! We were camping in Crantock, Cornwall (which is our favourite holiday location). In the days leading up to the engagement we had walked around the headland looking for a nice birthday picnic spot, little did I know that it would actually be the engagement spot. Ben’s insistence on me choosing the exact spot made sense afterwards! We went surfing in the morning then after a nice hot shower, we headed off with our cream tea inspired picnic, with the obligatory champagne and strawberries!
After setting out our picnic blanket Ben made me close my eyes for a ‘surprise’ and when I opened them, he was knelt down with the ring in his hand. Lots of nice words and champagne followed, and then the second surprise of the day was that he’d booked us into Watergate Bay Hotel for the night, so we could enjoy our engagement night in the a bed rather that a tent!
We set the date for June 28, 2014. We’re both in the RAF and have lots of friends in the RAF too, so we always have to plan very far in advance for everything. We wanted to give everyone at least a year’s notice, so drew-up a plot of availability of my bridesmaid being back from Afghanistan and then the big items we needed to hire: tipi, venue, toilets, transport etc, and just chose the date that would work the best.
When deciding on a venue for the wedding, we were always on the lookout for somewhere we could use exclusively, somewhere that was slightly different from the norm, but ultimately somewhere that we could have a relaxed and intimate wedding, which we could hopefully spread out over more than more day.
We’d seen tipis in a wedding magazine and knew straight away that they provided exactly what we wanted, so we then went on an internet hunt for an amazing location; that’s how we found Bank Ground Farm in the Lake District. It’s a working farm, with cottages, a guesthouse, dog kennels, a tea room, boats for hire and bikes for hire, so it had a lot of what we needed under one roof. We didn’t do the legal bits at Bank Ground but it is where the real celebrations happened. We had a civil ceremony at Belmount Hall first which we chose because of its beautifully rustic interior and its proximity to Bank Ground Farm. The farm offered us the intimacy we wanted, gave us the ability to accommodate a large number of our guests and had a very relaxed feel about it. There are lots of different elements to Bank Ground, from the beautifully manicured lawns at the front of the house, the terrace overlooking Old Man Coniston and the lounge areas and bar inside the guesthouse; we were fortunate to be able to utilise all of them over the course of our three-day celebrations.
We didn’t have a specific theme to begin with, but over the course of the planning, we naturally swayed towards a rustic barn type of style. There were exposed beams in the tipis which we covered in fairy lights, we scattered bales of hay around for seats and displays, we up-cycled bottles and jars for flowers and candles, and brought everything together by using lace and burlap throughout. Relaxation had been the driving factor with choices; we didn’t want anything formal or stuffy, we just wanted people to feel that they could kick off their shoes and swap them for flip-flops or even wellies (weather dependent). The tea party food theme came out of our love for cream tea and the link back to our engagement with the champagne, strawberries, scones and clotted cream.
We wanted to keep the colour theme soft and romantic to tie in with the burlap and lace so all colours used were pale pinks, creams and some light gold.
My wedding dress was couture, and pre-loved. I saw it hiding at the back of a rail and was instantly attracted to its big, floaty skirt. The ripples in the skirt made me think of water and the rough edges of the material was in keeping with the relaxed, vintage effect we were creating. I love my sparkles, so the Swarovski pearls and beads that covered the bodice kept it girly and romantic.
Ben wore a very striking navy tweed three-piece suit from Walker Slater, a bespoke tweed outfitter in Edinburgh, along with a white shirt, pink knitted tie, and tan brogues from Kurt Geiger. The groomsmen all wore different tweed waistcoats, all from Walker Slater, white shirts, pink ties (to match Ben’s) and navy chinos.
The bridesmaids and I have a passion for Irregular Choice shoes, so in keeping with the soft colour scheme, the girls wore beautiful champagne lace dresses, but brought a pop of colour to the outfits with some bright Irregular Choice shoes. We all wore the same style, but in a different colour.
We loved how everyone looked together; it was exactly how we’d imagined, just amazing!
My hairdresser was Vikki Nelson and I have to say she had the patience of a saint! The hair for myself, mum and bridesmaids was the one thing I got my knickers in a twist over, as I really wanted it to be perfect. And despite me changing my ideas slightly, and my handmade hairpiece not quite working out as I’d planned, Vikki remained calm and polite while I had a very minor melt down/moan! All of the hairstyles turned out better than planned, and stayed in place well into the early hours.
My make-up was done by my gorgeous and talented cousin Samantha Hill, who runs her own beauty salon Beau Chic Beauty in Latton, on the edge of the Cotswolds/Cirencester. Everyone commented on how flawless it was, and I didn’t even need to do one single touch-up throughout the whole day – just perfect!
On the big day, we travelled in a classic split screen VW camper. This had been one of our ‘must haves’ from the very beginning as we both love the classic VW’s and dream to actually own one someday! Paul Bradburn of Lake District Vintage Wedding Cars was just amazing. He was extremely friendly and very passionate about his VW – he even supplied us with a nice cold bottle of bubbles for the journey.
My favourite part of the day was stood at the stairs to the civil ceremony room, waiting for my entrance music to start, with my mum doing a little dance to make me laugh and hold back the tears, knowing that in less than a few minutes I’d be saying my vows and my life as I knew it would change forever. Knowing that my best friend was about to become my husband and that our next adventures together would soon begin was a wonderful feeling.
We have the bonus of having James Stewart as Ben’s cousin, so there was never any doubt that we would use him as our photographer. We’ve seen a lot of James’ work over the years, from his sporting shots to capturing many happy family events.
James has a very unobtrusive nature and manages to get the shots that you didn’t even notice. A week after the wedding he sent us a little taster of what was to come in the form of a slideshow set to music; shame he hadn’t prepared me to have the tissues at the ready! I’m not sure how he managed it, but his photos feel like they captured all of the emotions of the day magnificently. Quite a few people have commented on needing the tissues when they watched it. We truly couldn’t recommend him enough; thoroughly professional, amazingly talented and a pleasure to have had him as part of our day.
For our wedding flowers we used The Flower Basket in Coniston village. Anne was extremely helpful and totally understood the concept I was aiming for. We basically told her that we wanted it to be soft and relaxed, using mainly creams and pinks. I’d created a scrapbook of magazines pictures over the year, took it to show her and realised that the running theme in my scrapings were peonies, gypsophila and roses. So we gave her artistic licence to use anything else she thought would look good, and she did an absolutely amazing job and totally transformed the tipis and surrounding chill out areas. I really couldn’t have been happier with the end result and couldn’t recommend her enough. I didn’t carry a bouquet, instead choosing to have a wrist corsage, which had some large pink peonies and white roses.
I made a lot of the decorations myself; pom poms, up-cycled jars and bottles, table plan, and napkin cuffs. I also put Ben and his dad to good use with a chain saw, cutting up tree trunks for table centre, and stands for menus and notices. The final touches of vintage glamour came from suretosurpriseyou.co.uk.
We hired all of the vintage crockery, cake stands and other tableware essentials, but the real eye-catchers were all of the vintage items for decoration. My bridesmaid Amy also lent a hand with the table centre arrangements, using her eye for detail to incorporate my items with hers. She helped to make a unique table centre for each table, and helped create a central focal point out of bales of hay, blankets and vintage items.
For our favours I made individuals wine charms for all the guests, but also made boxes so that they could all add their charms to a box, take them home, and carry on using them for their own future parties.
My bridesmaid Amy is an absolute legend in the baking department, and so there was never any other option than to have her mouth-watering delights as our wedding cake. Sticking with the tea party theme, she made the most magnificent four-tier tea party inspired cake. There were edible teacups, real biscuits, edible bunting and a giant Belgium white chocolate teapot on top. Each layer was a different flavour; chocolate, Victoria sponge, carrot and lemon.
Bank Ground Farm made all of our food, using as many local ingredients as possible, even using produce from their own farm. We had a hog roast on the Friday night with lots of gorgeous breads and salads. We also had a barbecue fit for a king on the Sunday afternoon.
The Saturday wedding food started off with a large selection of canapés on the lawn while enjoying bubbles for the girls, and local ales for the boys. The wedding breakfast was simply ‘high tea’, which included Cumbrian honey roast ham sandwiches, local pink roast beef with horseradish, blue cheese and rocket sandwiches, local cheddar with homemade chutney on onion bread sandwiches, free range egg and watercress sandwiches, Cumberland sausage rolls with smoked bacon and mustard, mini vegetable wellingtons and stilton, bacon and spring onion potato skins. Dessert was homemade scones, homemade jam, local fresh strawberries and lashings of clotted cream. Wines and champagnes were served from the bar stock and we had kegs of Loweswater Gold and Esthwaite ales to keep the guys happy.
Ben is massively into his music, so this was one area that he was in charge of completely. We both believe that live music is the making of any event, so he spent hours trawling the internet, listening to bands, and reading reviews. He finally decided on The Rips, who are a five-piece band from Yorkshire. They play anything from The Beatles or Bryan Adams, to Kings of Leon and Maroon 5, so we knew we’d get a good range to keep all ages entertained. Ben’s research certainly paid off because the dance floor was bouncing all night long!
We would wholeheartedly recommend all of our suppliers to other couples. One thing we really loved about Bank Ground Farm is that it isn’t actually a wedding venue. Jonathon there believes that weddings need and deserve a lot of attention and time, therefore doesn’t allow more than a handful of weddings a year, allowing him to dedicate his time and attention to each one, and help to make it unique. This was a real bonus and Jonathon and his staff were like extensions of the family; unbelievably helpful, happy and eager to help things run smoothly.
Other suppliers we’d have to recommend are Special Event Tipis. Kate and Dave from there were fantastic to work with. They are a married couple, who used tipis for their own wedding, fell in love with them and decided to start their own business. You can really tell they have a passion for their job, as they were extremely enthusiastic, passionate and accommodating with everything. They also use very high quality items, which made my job of decorating much easier, as there was such a great starting point with their tipis and interiors.
A special touch to the wedding was certainly having our eight-month-old English Springer Spaniel, Murphy there to play a part in the weekend celebrations. He’s a huge part of our lives. He even had his own tweed collar and lead to match Ben’s outfit.
We went to Thailand on our honeymoon. We had a few nights in Bangkok where we sampled as many delights as possible; tuk tuk rides, street food, coconut water and street markets. We also had some cultural trips; temples, Bridge over the River Kwai, Hellfire Pass and war memorials. We visited the Tiger Temple, which was a dream come true, especially bathing and feeding the baby tigers and we stayed in a glamping site called Hintock River Camp. After these three whirlwind days, we jumped on another flight to Koh Samui, where we checked into a pool villa at Six Senses Samui. This was ultimate luxury; just what we both needed after six months of wedding crafting and preparations. Over the course of the next week we relaxed (a lot), went sightseeing on boats and kayaks, went elephant riding, relaxed some more and ate a lot!
My top tip to other Brides Up North has to be this (even though we still failed to do it) – try, try, try to take ten minutes aside together in the middle of the evening to step back and watch all of your loved ones having a blast. The evening really does just disappear in a heartbeat, and is over before anyone wants it to be!
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