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 1st, 2015 | Julia Braime
This wedding is a very glam occasion indeed with an evening wear dress code and classic black, white and silver colour scheme.
We love the men’s choice of smart suits with braces and dicky bows as well as the bridesmaids’ elegant floor-length lace dresses. Stealing the show bride Holly completes the well-dressed wedding party in her gorgeous princess style gown with simple detailing.
Puling the whole classy affair together there are stunning arrangements and elegant décor by Red Floral Architecture and sparkling stationery by Love Invited.
With images by Martin Hambleton Photography.
holly says: We got engaged on 7th September 2011. Will had organised a meal at Piccalino’s in Manchester, which I thought was just a treat for me finishing a course I’d been doing. My mum and step-dad were there so everything seemed pretty much ordinary (barring the fact looking back Will had his best shirt on). Once we had sat at our table a beautiful bunch of red roses were given to me by the waiter and next thing Will was down on one knee in the middle of the restaurant showing me my gorgeous engagement ring. The whole restaurant, even the chefs were cheering. It was a very memorable moment.
We set our wedding date for 6th December 2014. I had always wanted a winter wedding, as I knew living in Manchester we could never depend on the weather being nice. I didn’t want it to be any closer to Christmas so the first weekend in December it was (which happened to be my 27th Birthday).
Our chosen venue was Colshaw Hall at Over Peover, Cheshire. We just fell in love with this venue the minute we stepped foot inside. There are no other venues like it in the area!
We didn’t really have a style/theme but I knew I wanted all my guests in evening wear so there had to be quite a chic and glamorous feel to the day. In terms of colour I like everything quite white and minimal so all the flowers were white and we had stunning Perspex accessories and lots of candles.
Overall the colour scheme was black, white and silver sparkle which I chose because I wanted everything to look clean and simple.
When it came to my dress, I chose a design that was the complete opposite to what I first thought I would chose. My dress was quite ‘princessy’ but not too over the top with an ivory satin, strapless bodice and quite a full skirt. Around the waist it had delicate silver detail. I found my dress in Maria Modes in Macclesfield. The ladies in there were so welcoming and helpful!
Will wore a suit from Whitfield & Ward in Wilmslow. He went for a black evening suit with a dickey bow and braces. Will didn’t want anything too traditional. The groomsmen also wore suits from Whitfield & Ward – the same as Will’s but without a waistcoat.
My six bridesmaids meanwhile wore long black lace dresses. They had a low V shaped dip at the back with a satin belt. I got them from Adeava in Macclesfield.
We were lucky enough to not to have to hire transport on the day, as Will’s dad owns a Classic Car Restoration Company in Denton called Ratcliffe Accident Repair Centre. So we both had beautiful Bentleys to use on the day.
Martin Hambleton Photography took our photographs. I chose Martin to be our photographer after seeing what a stunning job he did for a close friend of mine. Martin really helped with any questions or worries I had leading up to our wedding, he was always on the end of an email or phone. Will and I felt so at ease on our big day and Martin captured such beautiful photographs. We would recommend him to everyone.
We also hired a videographer called Unforgettable Memories who was recommend by Martin. We wanted to have a video of our day so that we wouldn’t miss out on the moments we wouldn’t be able to be a part of. Craig was great from Unforgettable Memories and we are so happy with the final video.
I carried a stunning bouquet of calla lilies that were created by Matt at Red Floral Architecture. Red Floral also provided beautiful arrangements of white roses, Perspex candelabras and lots of candles to decorate. I made our super sparkly silver table numbers.
Our wedding stationery was provided by Love Invited Ltd. Amanda there created the most beautiful stationery. I knew what I wanted so getting that printed just how I imagined was great.
I decided to not give favours to the adult guests. I wanted the evening to be fun so put silly moustaches, lips and hats on a stick props for each guest. I did give the children a little present each though to keep them entertained during the meal.
We didn’t want a traditional cake so went for a sweetie cake instead. I did want it to look like a wedding cake but then be able to be separated in the evening for everyone to enjoy. It was made by Gemma Kelly of Little Gem’s Sweetie Cakes.
Barrett’s Caterers provided the catering on the day and we chose a menu made up of our favourite foods.
As a special touch, Will and my family surprised me with a birthday cake at the beginning of the speeches. Everyone sang Happy Birthday, I have no idea how we will top my birthday celebrations to come!
For an extra but of fun in the evening we hired a photo booth from Hipswing Entertainments, which turned out to be a great idea. The photographs are great and Hipswing provided a great service.
I would recommend every company that was involved in making our day run so smoothly, including our venue. Georgina and the team that run it are all great and couldn’t have done more to make our day special. I loved every minute of it!
For our honeymoon we went to Mexico and stayed in a beautiful hotel called Excellence Playa Mujeres, somewhere we had never been before and it was just paradise. We had ten days to just relax together. We had dinner on the beach, danced all night at CoCo Bongos and found a new favourite cocktail – Banana Mamas.
My top tips to other Brides Up North would be to enjoy every moment of planning and try not to get into arguments about anything as everything always works out in the end. On the big day take everything in as much as you can and to sneak a few moments on your own with your partner. Finally, don’t wear your heels all day, it’s just not worth the pain the next day!
adeava, cheshire wedding, colshaw hall, excellence playa mujeres, hipswing entertainments, little gems sweetie cakes, love invited, manchester wedding, maria modes, Martin Hambleton Photography, ratcliffe accident repair centre, real wedding, red floral architecture, uk wedding blog, unforgettable memories
June 1st, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Sorry to go all girl crush but I’m totally besotted by today’s bride Louise. Now here’s a lady that hasn’t conformed to the stereotypical bridal dress, hair or makeup. Instead Louise chose to stay true to her own personal taste and style with her fabulous blunt bob, red lippy and a gorgeous bespoke dress, complete with dreamy bell sleeves.
And Louise wasn’t the only one injecting personality into the big day. Groom David kept his wedding attire modern and relaxed opting for a blue Reiss suit, white shirt and no tie.
In fact the whole day is a perfect reflection of Louise and David, both individually and as a couple, from their stylish dress to the unusual venue and informal dining.
As Louise points out it’s important not to be swayed too much by other people’s opinions so that the bride and groom become detached from the celebrations – guys take note, you’ve got to do it your way.
With images by Elisabeth Kurtis.
louise says: We got engaged our four year anniversary, which is January 1st. We went out for a meal to celebrate and when we got back home Dave proposed in our kitchen. He thought it would be too cheesy if he did it in the restaurant, even though he did take the ring with him. He asked me what my New Year’s resolution was, then he said that his was to marry me and produced the ring!
We set the date for 27th April 2013. We wanted to get married in spring when the weather could possibly be sunny but not too warm as I always knew I wanted a long sleeve dress. I also really like the flowers that are around in spring time. To determine the date we then checked all our close friends’ birthdays and picked a date that wouldn’t clash with anything.
We got married at Ordsall Hall in Salford and held our reception at Islington Mill. We knew we wanted our reception at The Mill because it suited our budget and we had enjoyed some great nights out there over the years. Plus it was quite an unusual venue where we would have a free reign on decorating the place how we wanted and was licensing until 3am!
There was no particular theme, it just all came together to represent us as a couple. We never wanted a colour scheme as such either and instead flowers and decorations were chosen simply because we liked them.
I tried on lots of dresses in various wedding shops around Manchester and hated all of them. I wanted something stylish, almost catwalk like and nothing off the shelf seemed to fit the bill. This was when I knew I would be best to design and have one made. I did lots of research on the internet and found the images of the style I wanted. I then took my pictures to a few wedding dress makers and that’s when I met Jean Jackson. As soon as I met her I knew she was on the same wave length, she just got me and knew exactly what I was after.
We wanted it to be a relaxed wedding, nothing too formal so Dave opted for a blue suit from Reiss and chose not to wear a tie.
I really didn’t want matching bridesmaids. Everyone is different and if you were a guest at a wedding you wouldn’t want to be seen wearing the same dress as another guest, so why should a bridesmaid be any different? Each of my bridesmaids have their own style, personality and shape so they both chose a dress they liked and would wear again.
Our venues we’re only five minute drive from each other so we didn’t feel the need to spend money on transport. Instead we ended up using our own car, which is Mark1 Golf GTI soft top.
We had two photographers. Our friend Ciara Leeming took photos of the ceremony which she offered to do as a wedding gift. Elisabeth Kurtis, who is a friend of friend, then took our portrait shots and covered our wedding reception. Both are such amazing photographers I would highly recommend both of them.
We bought our wedding flowers from a wholesaler at Smithfield Market and a family friend arranged them for us.
In the run up to the wedding we spent six months during our evenings and weekends making paper decorations to dress our venue. We bought ten sets of fairy lights and hundreds of jam jars were collected over a year for tea light and flower table decorations. The reception flowers were also from the wholesales which friends helped to arrange into jam jars and vases to spread around the venue. We hired tables and chairs from a company called Dale Event Hire which were great to deal with and good value for money.
As favours we had a bowl of sweets with candy coloured bags for guest to help themselves to on the dessert table. We didn’t have a traditional wedding cake. Instead our close friends made cakes and desserts which were displayed on a table for guest to help themselves.
We wanted a relaxed informal dinner so opted for a help yourself barbecue by Kro Catering. We had always heard good things about Kro Catering and they were so helpful and accommodating. Due to The Mill not really having kitchen facilities as such this was the perfect solution.
For entertainment, Dave organised playlists for different parts of the day, such as while guests were arriving and eating. Then after the speeches we then had various friends DJing into the early hours.
In addition we bought a Polaroid camera and set up our own photo booth area with props that related to each of us. Guests then hung the photos onto ribbons that were strung along a wall with small pegs. With the help of our friends we also made a ‘love’ sign out of rope light that was illuminated on the back wall. This seemed to attract lots of guests having their photograph taken with it has a background.
We would recommend both of venues to other couples. Ordsall Hall is a great alternative to the town hall and is still close to other venues in the city which you could then go onto for reception afterwards. We really liked the feel of it and liked that no one we knew had got married there. Everyone seems to always opt for the town hall. Islington Mill meanwhile is a great venue if you are looking for somewhere a bit different to the usual standard wedding venue. It does require a lot of effort on your part, but if you have a vision and are prepared to put lots of work into dressing the venue it is well worth it.
We thoroughly enjoyed the whole day, particularly when Dave’s best friend Niamh, who was his best man (lady), made her speech – it was excellent, everyone loved it!
We had two honeymoons. Straight after the wedding we went to a friend’s apartment in Ibiza for five days. A few months later after saving up some money we then went on a two week honeymoon to Santorini.
My top tips to other Brides Up North would be to make the wedding day about you and your groom as a couple and don’t get too bogged down with trying to please family members. Also, it doesn’t matter what your budget you can still make it the best day ever, even if you spend very little. Finally, plan in advance and be as organised as possible.
May 25th, 2015 | Julia Braime
Often when tying the knot a couple will return back to their family roots for the big day, but today’s couple saw their wedding as an opportunity to showcase the city they now call home to their family and friends.
We love that this stylish city centre celebration takes place in a number of different locations, providing contrasting backdrops to David and Emma’s big day. Following the ceremony at Manchester’s grand Town Hall the wedding party moved onto a canal side bar before heading to the contemporary Castlefield Rooms for the evening reception. And of course they travelled in style, aboard a vintage bus.
This sounds like our kind of wedding!
With images by our talented Brides Up North Sponsor, James Tracey Photography.
emma says: We got engaged in York in November 2013. York is a great city and a special place for us. It is where we went on one of our first dates and many days out and weekends away since. I was a total surprised when David decided to propose before a gorgeous meal in a lovely hotel. Spreading the news was tricky though as the idyllic setting meant no phone signal!
We chose the 21st of March 2015 for our wedding day. We didn’t want to jump in before my sister who was getting married in November, didn’t want a winter wedding and also couldn’t wait to get married! So we decided on the very first day of spring. It turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous day, beautiful sunshine, no wind or rain and nice and warm. Many guests commented that Manchester was supposed to be rainy and made our top table name of ‘Rainy Wedding’ slightly ironic.
Neither of us are from Manchester, I’m from the Ribble Valley and David is from Newcastle, but Manchester is where we have decided to make our home together and we wanted to showcase the city to our family and friends on our wedding day.
We married at the spectacular Manchester Town Hall. We knew we were having a civil ceremony and didn’t want any old hotel room. We only viewed the Town Hall for our ceremony, when we walked inside we were bowled over by the grandeur and atmosphere and decided straight away it was our perfect venue! We contrasted the grandeur of the Town Hall with a more relaxed, contemporary and modern feel for our reception at Dukes 92 and the Castlefield Rooms. A great area to showcase Manchester with the canals and barges, especially when we were lucky enough to have the sun shining as it was!
I wouldn’t go so far as to say we had a theme, but we certainly tried to embrace Manchester. I walked down the aisle to a string trio playing One Day Like This by Elbow and David wore a little Bee lapel pin, hidden next to his buttonhole – the worker bee being the symbol of Manchester and it features in the elaborate mosaic floors of the Town Hall, representing the work ethic of the people of Manchester particularly during the industrial revolution.
We also incorporated family heritage by having roses that represented England and thistles representing Scotland within our flowers. Our table names were paintings by either artists we liked or of paintings we liked, they either had a meaning behind them or story attached to them.
Our colour scheme was navy, pale pink, pale silvers and ivory. By choosing thistles early on we thought we would continue the dark blue theme, however we offset this with pale pinks to soften it and to ensure everything didn’t look too nautical. The two offset each other perfectly and the flowers tied everything together with the variety of colours, textures and varieties.
I chose a gorgeous A-line dress with touches of sparkle from The Bridal Path in Altrincham. I didn’t have a dress in mind and promptly tried on ever shape dress to help narrow it down. I ended up finding four dresses at The Bridal Path that I loved and the difficulty then was not finding my perfect dress but choosing which my perfect dress was! I felt fantastic on the day!
David wore a three piece slim fitted navy suit. After looking everywhere he found exactly what we were looking from in Next. This looked really smart. It was worn with a crisp white, double-cuff shirt with Hugo Boss cufflinks and pale pink slim tie and silver tie pin and a light pink pocket square. The tie and pocket square came from Swagger&Swoon.co.uk. I gave David a silver pocket watch and chain engraved with a personal message as a gift which was worn on the wedding day and looked great with his waistcoat
The groomsmen all wore the same matching slim fit three piece suit, tie and pocket square as the groom but without the extras. The boys looked great. The bridesmaids meanwhile wore gorgeous long dark blue dresses from Debut at Debenhams.
For transport we hired a bus from The Yorkshire Heritage Bus Company. This was a gorgeous vintage black and ivory bus which they had decorated with white ribbons. A plaque inside the bus stated where the bus was made, which coincidentally was not far from where I grew up in Blackburn. The bus took me, my parents, and bridesmaids from the Marriott Victoria and Albert to the ceremony and then the guests from the Town Hall to the reception at Dukes 92 and The Castlefield Rooms. It was a sunny day and the wedding bus outside the Town Hall really drew a crowd.
Photographer James Tracey was there to capture our day. James was amazing, not just on the day but from our first meeting. He is a pleasure to be around and such a nice guy. If you are spending all day with someone this is a massive bonus. On top of this he is a great photographer too. He totally understood what we wanted and provided us with great pictures which also embraced the urban backdrop of Manchester city centre. We couldn’t recommend him highly enough!
Our flowers were provided by Frog Flowers. We had a consultation with David at his studio and went through our colour scheme and feel for the day, we were set on roses and thistles and agreed that we would also like varied flowers with lots of textures. The Frog team didn’t let us down, the bouquets, button holes and table centres were not only beautiful, and even better than we had imagined, but also smelled fantastic (not something we had considered).
Frog Flowers provided all our flowers at our wedding and we managed to re-use the flowers from our ceremony as the top table centrepiece by taking it on the bus with us. Other small decorations came from our home, hurricane lanterns with pillar candles, candle sticks and wooden letters. Castlefield provided a gorgeous white letter box!
We gave everyone a little jar of sweets as favours. We personalised the jar lids with labels, decorated them with ribbon and a homemade ‘Love is Sweet’ tag, which included a thank you message on the back. We chose some of our favourites sweets to fill them with.
Elaine of Elaine’s Creative Cakes in Urmston, Manchester, made our cake. We wanted the cake to be fairly minimal with sharp clean modern lines, surprisingly this is achieved using the less modern and more traditional royal icing. We designed a four tier cake with Elaine, alternating fruit cake and sponge. Both tasted absolutely gorgeous and Elaine even surprised us with our own personal boxed cake, which was left on the top table and was a lovely surprise on the day.
We thoroughly enjoyed the menu tasting at Albert’s Shed prior to the wedding and I think anything we chose would have gone down well! Our dessert was a selection of tarts and a cheese board served to the table for guests to share. This is a fantastic option that Castlefield offer, providing an alternative for those without a sweet tooth whilst allowing everyone on the table to dig in.
Mixing old with new and traditional with contemporary, we asked a string trio from Endymion to play modern songs on strings at the Town Hall as guests were arriving, during the ceremony and at our drinks reception. These guys are fantastically talented, I only wish I heard more (a downside of arriving last).
For the evening we hired a DJ from Jonny Ross Music, who was recommended by Castlefield. The DJ was superb and had everyone dancing all night, he really knew how to judge the crowd and the music was fantastic!
As a special touch on the big day we had a signature perfume and aftershave, which is now our ‘wedding scent’. The sense of smell is a great way of evoking memories and we have decided we will wear this on special occasions like anniversaries as a nice reminder of our special day!
Other businesses that contributed to our wedding day was Erica and Edwards Jewellers in Manchester who made my ring. They were super patient and offered a really personal service. Also Sian Gorton did mine and the other girls’ hair and make-up on the day, it was no mean feat getting us all ready in the morning single handed! She was totally calm and good company during the wedding prep. It sounds clichéd but we all felt like a million dollars!
We would 100 per cent recommend our venues to others. As far as the city centre of Manchester is concerned there is nowhere else we would consider. The Town Hall requires no hard sell. Once you walk in you are literally blown away. It is a fascinating and historical building that will stand forever as a reminder of our day. The Castlefield Rooms is contemporary and modern and is an idyllic city centre location – they are incredibly professional and experienced at organising and running weddings. The day ran like absolute clockwork and was completely stress free as we knew everything was taken care of and in hand. On top of that the food is fantastic!
It is so hard to choose a favourite part of the day, however, one particular funny moment was during the vows. Many will know one of the statements that has to be made is; ‘I know not any reason why I ____ may not be lawfully married to ____’. We knew it was coming, but as a Geordie when David said ‘wye aye’ the ripple of laughter was fab!
Straight after our wedding we took ourselves off to a log cabin Keldy Forest. It was perfect – zero phone signal and the wildlife and nature were fascinating, with deer walking beside the cabin morning and night. We spent the days in our personal hot tub and evening in front of the log fire. It was a perfect chilled week after what was a busy weekend! Our main honeymoon is in June; we are off to Dubai and Mauritius and can’t wait!
Our top tip to other Brides Up North would be to do exactly what you want to do, choose what is special to both you and the groom. Our day was exactly as we imagined and couldn’t have been more perfect for us. Another tip would be to make sure you surround yourself with suppliers and people that you get on with, that you can rely on and that you trust, this makes the planning and the day much more stress free and a lot more fun!
alberts shed, brides up north featured supplier, castleford rooms, debenhams, dukes 92, elaines creative cakes, endymion, erica and edwards jewellers, frog flowers, james tracey photography, jonny ross music, manchester town hall, manchester wedding, next, north west wedding, real wedding, swagger and swoon, the bridal path, the yorkshire heritage bus company
April 27th, 2015 | Julia Braime
Today’s couple prove how a vibrant setting can actually help your big day stand out all the more. Rachael and Zariah combined their love for the arts, entertainment and all things bright to produce a colourful wedding that dazzled, in more ways than one.
I particularly love how happy and natural everyone involved in this special day looks, all captured by On Love and Photography – fabulous pics guys!
rachael says: We got engaged on that Olympic Super Saturday 4th August 2012 during a holiday in Paris. Before we went away, some of our friends speculated ‘ooh maybe he plans to propose in Paris!’ which I laughed off. After visiting a variety of stereotypically romantic settings (with limitless opportunities for proposal) – The Eiffel Tower, Sacré–Cœur, banks of the Seine etc. he hadn’t popped the question and so I wrote it off. Therefore it certainly came as a surprise as we got back to our hotel room on the last night and Zariah tells me he wants to spend the rest of his life with me and produces a beautiful aquamarine engagement ring! I cried for a long time; half in shock, half in happiness and woke up the next day with a puffy but very happy face!
We were originally going to get married in February 2014. However, when I found out I was pregnant in December 2012, we decided to postpone the wedding so that we could solely focus on getting used to being new parents, without having to plan an imminent wedding too! Thankfully, the venue were so accommodating and happily rearranged it for 28th February 2015.
We had our wedding ceremony in our local church, St Paul’s in Sale town centre. The church is down the road from our house so it’s lovely to have that reminder of our wedding every time we walk past. After looking around various different venues for the reception, from stately homes to pubs, we knew from the moment we walked into The Compass Room at The Lowry Theatre that this was the place for us. We loved the urban architecture around, the room is really unique with floor to ceiling views of Media City. We are both also jobbing actors, so the fact our reception was in a theatre was another bonus and made it feel special to us.
The thought of planning a wedding has always filled me with dread, let alone the thought of a ‘theme’. That said, as we began to realise how much thought had to be put into each aspect of the day – there had to be some sort of common thread. We wanted the wedding to be bright, fun and personal, with a bit of sparkle.
Our colour scheme was predominantly blue with a lot of brights! My engagement ring is aquamarine, we both like blue so that was our base for the bridesmaid dresses and suits. After trawling through Pinterest I was drawn to all the brightly coloured flowers so we really went for a bit of everything.
After visiting several bridal shops in and around Manchester whilst carting Isaac around in his pram, the dress hunt was beginning to lose its sparkle. I was trying on too many and being indecisive. I had realised that the slightly 1950s style princess dress suited my figure the most but I struggled to find ‘the one’. One Saturday in July, on a visit back to my home town of St Helens with my step sister Julia we visited Always & Forever Bridal Boutique. The women in the shop were really down to earth, honest and didn’t beat around the bush, which is just what I needed. It was also the first shop I’d been into where I liked several of the dresses and most were in the Mori Lee range. It was here I found my Madison dress. It was just what I wanted, I loved the romantic tulle, full skirt, simple, but with a bit of sparkle in the belt.
It took a few more months for me to decide on the accessories. I bought some lovely 1950s style Rachel Simpson shoes online. Jewellery wise I wore a locket that my Grandad gave to my Nan on their first date which had their pictures in. I didn’t think I wanted a veil but in the end, I think the plain tulle veil complemented the church ceremony. Rosie Binns from Ethos Hair in Chorlton did my bridal hair and the bridesmaids’ hair on the day.
The groomsmen wore the same as Zariah. Isaac (our son) who was our page boy wore a suit from Mamas and Papas with blue Converse trainers. My bridesmaids wore sapphire blue Dessy dresses we ordered through J’Adore Bridal Boutique in Altrincham. My flower girl (Leah, my niece) wore a very pretty, simple white dress from Next, along with a cardigan with a butterfly clasp and we bought her a heart shaped locket, similar to mine.
We hired a beautiful Royal Windsor wedding car from Century Wedding Cars, St Helens, as our transport. We liked the 1950s theme and the company is owned by an old school friend’s mum and dad. It was nice to give them business as a grown up bride-to-be, rather than giving them grief as a teenage tearaway!
Our photographers were the brilliant and lovely Giulia and Ben from On Love and Photography. They had photographed our friends’ wedding the previous summer and we fell in love with their pictures. It was a no brainer that we wanted to use them too. Not only amazing photographers, they are such a friendly couple too. We both felt really comfortable around them and loved their observational style shots. They are also quite adventurous in their photography, egging us on for the more unusual pictures! We would highly recommend them.
Fletcher and Foley of Sale provided our flowers. My bouquet was made up of orange ranunculus, red parrot tulips, blue muscari, mixed anemones and hellebores and catkins for a touch of spring!
The florist arranged jam jar pew ends at the church made up of brightly coloured ranunculus, daffodils and blue musacri which really gave a hint of spring. Two of our friends then kindly transported the pew end flowers to the wedding venue and arranged them in a row on the top table. We used vases from my sister’s wedding for centre pieces and kept it simple with floating candles and peachy/pink delphinium orchids floating on top. The bridesmaids and I made the table plans, name cards and signage for the venue. The room itself had the wow factor so we didn’t need to go mad on decorations. Special Day Events, who we would recommend, provided organza bows for our chairs. Emma was really quick in her email correspondence and sent me an array of different coloured samples in the post to choose from.
Instead of a wedding guestbook, my friend made us a wedding post box with the idea that guests wrote their bits of advice and messages on a postcard, posted it in the box then took a selfie on our camera which we will print out and put next to their message in the guest book.
Being big cake lovers, it was only fitting that we had cupcakes as wedding favours. We also had a vase full of sparklers which we lit on the balcony overlooking Media City later on in the evening. The idea was for us to walk through a ‘bridge’ of sparklers – by this point the guests were quite drunk though and I was convinced my dress was going to go up in flames!
As our main cake we bought an M&S three-tiered cake with a mixture of fruit and sponge. Simple and tasty!
As Zariah’s family are a Jamaican heritage we wanted to incorporate some Caribbean flavours into our wedding meal and so the sweet potato and red pepper soup was a nod to this culture, whilst the Yorkshire pudding and beef canapés a nod to mine! We had chicken with mozzarella and sundried tomato as our main followed by a coconut Manchester Tart with banana ice cream, which was a big hit!
We love music and wanted guests to be in the mood for a party from the start so we hired Taylor and the Mason, two female guitarists to play during the drinks reception in the Quays Bar. Their voices are amazing and they are both gorgeous, funny and northern. We also hired a magician called Dan Tiernan whom Zariah and I have worked with at the Youth Theatre we teach. He was great and kept the guests and kids entertained during the meal.
For the evening reception we hired a DJ – Nick Campbell who was recommended to us. He came to our house before the wedding to discuss our tastes in music and was really friendly and chilled. Zariah had written out a long list of requests for the evening which Nick was happy to use. Nick gaged the audience perfectly, the dance floor was never empty – we even ended up doing a Conga to a reggae song around the room. Our first dance was to Our Day Will Come the Amy Winehouse version. We didn’t want anything too smoochy or slow, yet this song meant a lot to us as after being together for seven years and having a baby together, it felt about time we had our first dance!
It was really special that my Grandad walked me down the aisle in church. My mum and I lived with him and my Nan until I was four so we’ve always been close. It also seemed fitting that if my Grandad ‘gave me away’, then my step Dad, Graham, who’s been in my life for over 20 years should do the father of the bride speech in the evening. It was lovely that they both got to have special roles.
Being a bit of a feminist, I think a lot of our guests (including Zariah) expected me to do a speech along with the traditional male speakers. Whilst it was something I considered, after the pressure of months of wedding planning, the thought of adding this extra pressure wasn’t appealing. Then I came across four young lively buskers on Facebook that I had another idea. I asked Bolton Brass – a four piece brass band, to perform at our wedding as a surprise after the speeches. After watching them online, I just loved their energy (they do dance routines with trumpets) and hearing modern pop songs performed by a brass band just captivated me. The band burst through the doors playing Can’t Take My Eyes of You after the final toast and then leapt into No Place I’d Rather Be, The Final Countdown and a couple more songs. It really geared the guests up for the evening do and was my way of making a speech. They were amazing!
As we had a few children at the wedding I made goody bags for the kids table; play dough, colouring books, bubbles and disposable cameras.
We loved our wedding venue. The staff were so friendly and accommodating throughout and for those looking for an urban city wedding, The Lowry is perfect. The Compass Room is big and has the wow factor with great views of famous landmarks and endless opportunities for photos. We liked the fact we had our drinks reception in the Quays Bar downstairs, it really made use of the different sections of the venue. We also managed to have some photos taken in one of the theatres! It really was a unique venue and reflected both our love for Manchester and the arts.
It’s hard to define a favourite part of the day, we enjoyed it all from getting ready in the morning to doing the Conga in the evening! The vows in church were a really special moment when we both had to hold back the tears. We also really enjoyed hearing the readings we had picked for the church – one was from Isaac’s favourite bedtime book called ‘Me’ by Emma Dodd. It was lovely to have our son with us on our wedding day and fitting that we could include a reading that meant something to all of us. One really unique part of the day was when we arrived at venue and our photographers ushered us to a bridge next to The Lowry for photos whilst hundreds of Man United fans headed to the match. It was moment on our own away from the guests, yet surrounded by lots of friendly strangers from Zariah’s team (Zariah would like to add: we won 2-0 so it was a great day overall). We also had fun later on when we took to the balcony of The Lowry for group pictures with our friends. It was really cold and windy so after a few drinks, we all jumped up and down and started chanting silly songs to keep warm. It just confirmed how lucky we are to have such wonderful friends!
Following the wedding we had a two-night minimoon at The Brimstone, Langdale in The Lake District. After a hectic 18 months of bringing up a baby and wedding planning, we just wanted total relaxation on our own. We are also having a week away to Crete in the summer as our honeymoon and taking Isaac with us.
Our top tip to other Brides Up North is – plan well in advance, especially if you’re doing a lot of the stationery yourself. We took for granted how long the little bits would take us. We would also recommend investing in good photographers like On Love and Photography. The photos are the memories you keep for life after your day is over. We decided what mattered to us the most and the least, and stuck to that in terms of budget. Have fun on the day! The little things really won’t matter much. It’s about you two and having your loved ones around you what makes the wedding, not the chair covers (even though they did look lovely).
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