Charlotte Balbier

invisible kisses. a glamorous, gatsby-inspired winter wedding in manchester – rebecca & james

July 25th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

A Christmas Wedding in Manchester (c) Shane Weber (30)

When Rebecca and James’ Christmas wedding dropped into our inbox we simply couldn’t believe our luck. In Rebecca we saw a kindred spirit: a girl hell-bent on gorgeousness, glamour, sequins and a festive berry lip. Plus, she tells a blummin’ good story, not just spilling all the pretty details (obvs) but also gets across a real sense of the laughter and love they shared with their guests on the day. All the goosebumps.

Our highlight? Well, that Ritva Westenius gown is a beauty – a slinky statement of a dress with a simple, timeless silhouette – and the gallery setting is something very special indeed –  but if the Brides Up North team could direct you to just one detail it would be that makeup. An education in how to do bridal glamour right there. You’re very welcome.

With images by Shane Webber.

A Christmas Wedding in Manchester (c) Shane Weber (25)

rebecca says: We got engaged in 2015 while on holiday in Singapore (this makes us sound very extravagant – it was a treat!)  We were sitting drinking cocktails at the long bar in Raffles (as you do), munching away on the complimentary monkey nuts (as you do), when I looked down to see that one had a ring around it. Cue floods of tears from me for the next hour – the poor barmaid didn’t know what was going on. It was a complete surprise (although there may have been some, ahem, gentle encouragement from me in the months proceeding) and the happiest moment of my life (pre-wedding!)

Initially we looked at a September wedding, but struggled to match up availability of our venue and the registrar. I also had a niggling idea about a winter wedding that wouldn’t budge…after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing and wails of “But I thought we’d agreed September!” I think it was actually James who first said “well, what about Christmas?” And that was that.  We had a hankering to do something just a little bit different and we both love the festive season, so it felt perfect.

A Christmas Wedding in Manchester (c) Shane Weber (36)

We had both the ceremony and reception at the Manchester Art Gallery. We really wanted to get married in the city centre as it’s local to us, and we both love the paintings there.  We looked at a couple of other venues but when we went to look round the Gallery, James (not normally the world’s most effusive about these kind of things) turned to me and said: “I actually feel a bit excited!” I could’ve hugged the woman showing us around!  It’s a beautiful building inside and out and such a privilege to marry there.

We loved the idea of an elegant, glamorous theme with a touch of Gatsby. With the ceremony being later in the day at 4pm and the time of year, this theme worked really well.  We considered a black-tie dress code for guests but James wasn’t sure.  In the end our invites said: “It’s Christmas, it’s evening, so feel free to throw the glitter around and GO ALL-OUT GLAM’”.  Sums it up, really!

So the colours? Hints of gold, sequins and dark jewel shades for the best men.  And the ‘feel’? Glamorous, warm, festive. We wanted our guests to feel special and essentially have a fantastic pre-Christmas party!

A Christmas Wedding in Manchester (c) Shane Weber (33)

I chose a simple but elegant dress by Ritva Westenius from Isaac Charles in Poynton.  It was a sample on its own in the store and when I tried it on I loved how I felt in it.  Because of our theme I really wanted something that felt glamorous and luxurious (…and a bit sexy, as I said to my slightly bemused mum) The store and staff at Isaac Charles were lovely and I’d definitely recommend them to any brides-to-be.

A Christmas Wedding in Manchester (c) Shane Weber (18)

James, the best men and both our dads wore elegant white dress shirts, black trousers and velvet dinner jackets from Reiss.  The boys wore black and James’ was a dark blue just to stand out a little.  They all had contrasting silk scarves, pocket squares and bow ties.  I absolutely loved it; they all looked so handsome.  James was really keen for something a bit different but also a ‘non-traditional’ suit (that could be worn again for special occasions) and I think he nailed it.

The bridesmaids wore floor-length gold sequinned gowns from Jenny Packham at Debenhams.  I had such a strong idea of what I wanted them in that we ended up getting their dresses before mine. Thankfully, they liked them! They both looked so beautiful. Amina at Stockport Wedding Services did a great job with alterations for us all.

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