November 13th, 2013
If you’re going to theme a wedding, you may as well do it properly. Or at least that was today’s newlyweds’ motto (that and “Be Prepared” of course) when planning their entirely Scout and Guide themed wedding.
I’ve been looking forward to sharing this fun and fabulous day with you. Campfires at the ready, it’s Claire & Andrew’s big day…
Images by Alex Knight Photography
Claire says: We got engaged on 12th August 2012 at Whitby Abbey. I had just been on a JEKA adventure with my Guide & Ranger groups to Adelboden in Switzerland via Disneyland Paris on the way back. I was very tired and hadn’t showered in 2 days! I had managed to change my pants and brush my teeth though – small things to make a long coach journey bearable!
Andrew had been clearing out the Scout stores and I had to suffer a variety of vintage gas lamps in the kitchen. Upon collecting me he declared that he found a Scout campsite willing to have said lamps; "It’s a bit of a drive but you can tell me about your trip in the car." I was too exhausted to argue.
It turned out the "bit of a drive" was Scarborough; a likely story. I had an inkling that Andrew might propose but didn’t think he would be so cruel. Meanwhile I kept looking at the road signs wistfully that said Whitby – my favourite place in the entire world. I had a nap; woke up to tell Andrew off for nearly ploughing into the back of a tractor; fell asleep again and eventually woke up in a car park.
"This doesn’t look like a Scout campsite."
"Do you not know where you are?"
"Look out of the window to your right."
"*Sees Whitby Abbey* oh… OH!"
I guess what the game is; immediately feel sick, think I’m about to ramble and ruin everything and promptly clam up. Andrew and I go for an ice cream and a walk around the Abbey.
Andrew gets on one knee and pops the question. I squeak and nod. Andrew then gets extra Brownie points by reading a love letter from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn (one of my idols). He was going to memorise it but it was too hard! .
We got married at Barley Hall in York on 18th May 2013 and had the reception at the De Grey Ballroom at the Theatre Royal.
We wanted something historical and a little bit different to a modern hotel. We were never going to get married in church so we needed to widen the search. We loved Temple Newsham in Leeds but it was very booked up and the amount of chasing we had to do with marquee people started to get a bit silly.
As we had a lot of guests travelling we looked to York. I always enjoyed day trips there with my Mum and there is history around every corner; plus it has an abundance of hotels for every budget and a major train station!
The Great Hall in Barley Hall is decorated with white roses – perfect for a Yorkshire girl and it still has the medieval fireplace in the centre. Andrew wanted a small ceremony (promptly forgetting how large his family is!) due to stage fright – speeches he can do but being “on stage” for something so important and intimate brought us both out in the heebie jeebies! The exhibition when we got married was “Horrible Histories” – I’ve got a full set of the books; cue one very excited bride. I’m proud to say even the costume for “Stupid Death” was on show plus a skeleton and a stuffed rat. What can I say? I love my history!
A Google search for “large venue hire York” revealed the De Grey Rooms. Lindsey was possibly the most excited, lovely and welcoming person I’ve ever spoken to on the phone. Once I revealed the theme she was ecstatic – her Mum was a Brown Owl and got on board with the theme straight away!
We walked from each venue in York. The heavens opened in the morning and I was willing the forecast to be right and that it would pass by the time we needed to leave. Thankfully, the rain stopped by lunch time and we were ready to rock n roll!
Our theme was Scouts & Guides – we both volunteer for the movements and it’s how we met. We were both volunteering on the Physical Zone at Wings 2009 in Berkshire. We didn’t really have a colour scheme as such but sapphire blue and purple did make an appearance – my favourite colours.
My bouquet was white & antique roses with blue thistles by The Floral Studio – blending Yorkshire and Scotland. Twisted Willow Floristry did our table garland and herb pots.
I had a few requirements for my wedding dress: I wanted some sort of sleeve (narrows the search right down); to be corseted and to have covered buttons rather than the criss cross of corseting shown on the back.
I was willing to try on pretty much anything at the start of the search but quickly realised that sleeves or straps were high on my wish list. I’m short at 5ft2 and I’ve got a good bosom so I didn’t want anything to highlight my top heaviness!
The Bridal Boutique in Guiseley was where I ended up finding my dress: Angelina by Diane Harbridge. There were so many dresses in the range (and now the new range) that I loved. I loved the way it pulled me right in on the top half but my legs weren’t constrained.
The back of the dress was really detailed – that’s what most people see in the ceremony. I could hear so many comments as we walked through York complimenting the dress – I felt fantastic!
We asked the groomsmen and ushers to wear their best suits and I got them a tie and our Scottish best man wore his full Bonnie Prince Charlie kilt get up.
Bridesmaids were trickier – two of them weren’t in the country during the planning. I sent an email with links to dresses that I had found online and by a stroke of luck all three liked the same dress. Monsoon had come to the rescue. We got a sapphire blue dress called Meadow and my Mum made ivory sashes to jazz them up a bit.
During the ceremony Andrew’s Dad’s quartet played various pieces from the TV show the Tudors. I’m a big fan of Jonathan Rhys Meyers and I got permission from Trevor Morris who wrote the music for the show to use it in our ceremony.
My favourite part of the day was probably walking through York. On the way I got stopped and had photos taken with tourists. We had photos taken with bridesmaids, best men and groomsmen taken at the doors of York Minster and we could see a crowd of about 200 people stopping and watching. I couldn’t resist some photo bombing of photos on the walk back to the hall (bad bride!)
Overall, the seeing all the hard work come together was fantastic.
We went to town on the theme. All tables at the reception were named after real Scout & Guide patrols and each guest got a specially made wedding badge – quickly popped into pockets and bags by the many Scouters and Guiders at the wedding!
Mum made a necker for each guest to wear and also bunting from donated Scout & Guide neckers. Our table centres were old Scout & Guide books and we displayed the gas lamps used in the proposal on the fireplaces.
Andrew made a considerable amount of wine for the reception – this went down a lot better than expected! We made our own pub quiz and then we had a good old boogie to some cheesy classics.
My bridesmaid’s Mum made our cake. This was very fitting as she made my naming cake and some of my birthday cakes growing up. We had three layers: fruit, chocolate and Victoria sponge. Yummy! The wedding cake had Scout & Guide emblems around the top layer and on the very top was a tent made from icing with two pairs of feet sticking out and our personalised woggles.
Andrew’s an engineer and loves trains so for our honeymoon we went from Leeds to London and then to Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin all by train! We flew back to London to see Les Miserables and then one final train back to Leeds. When we got back Andrew asked for a beach holiday next time!
My top tip for other Brides Up North is this: When you enter Wedding World; be prepared to leave common sense at the door. You can be in a classic no win situation as no matter what you say you are immediately accused of being a Bridezilla.
Weddings have a weird habit of turning people a bit strange – and I’m not including the bride here! You will hear so many different daft comments and questions. Just remember: “There’s nowt as queer as folk!” & “Keep Calm and Carry on!”
Congratulations Claire & Andrew!
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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – Images © 2013 Alex Knight Photography
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