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pompoms & pineapples. la sposa for a festival themed wedding at natural retreats – michelle & james

June 12th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

A Festival Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Masha Unworth (33)

Regular readers of the blog will know that Brides Up North fully endorse festival weddings, so much so that we now dedicate several of our wedding fairs to this style of celebration with our epic WEDFEST tour that travelled the north of the country in May.

Fresh on the other side of those uber cool events, we were thrilled to receive the wonderful big day of Michelle and James who demonstrate how it’s done with their fun and fabulous big day in the Yorkshire Dales.

To achieve the colourful and carefree vibe for their festival style wedding, Michelle, James and an army of friends and family descended on their chosen venue with streamers, pompoms and plant chandeliers, transforming its blank canvas into something pretty awesome!

Cue a big, brave, DIY-flavour wedding with bold flamingo and pineapple motifs, tattoos and glitter, a gin bar and mezze-style food.

All of this styled out against the rolling hills of the Dales, plus a timeless La Sposa dress. We spoil you, we really do…

With images by Masha Unwerth

A Festival Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Masha Unworth (21)

michelle says: We got engaged at home 20th April 2016. James bought a huge bunch of tulips, my favourite flower, and left a trail of petals through the house leading to more tulips spread around the living room. I found him down on one knee with a lovely sapphire engagement ring.

We had two weddings (I know, greedy) – the first was a legal ceremony on the 20th of April, exactly one year to the day we got engaged. This was a smaller affair with a registrar and just our immediate family.

Our second wedding on the 22nd of April with 120 of our nearest and dearest friends and family. It was conducted by two of our closest friends, who wrote the ceremony without our assistance, so there were a couple of surprises!

A Festival Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Masha Unworth (38)

We got hitched at Natural Retreats in the Yorkshire Dales, and had both our ceremony and reception there. It’s a beautiful site with accommodation for nearly 100 guests. We were able to have a whole weekend of parties and got to spend quality time with everyone instead of feeling rushed. The venue was a blank canvas which we transformed with a small army of volunteers who hung, draped and stuck – they basically built an amazing wedding for us!

We chose a few very loose themes: gin, pineapples and flamingos. We also chose to create three rooms, each with a distinct ‘feel’.

A Festival Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Masha Unworth (45)

The main ceremony/dance space and bar were as colourful and fun as we could make them with a bit of a festival vibe. We added a photo booth, a glitter and tattoo station and built our own bars from pallets which looked fantastic. James’ friend Pencil Girl created our wedding stationery and we had the design printed into temporary tattoos.

In the dining room we wanted a very clean and classy look with lots of plants instead of flowers. We created our own hanging foliage ‘chandeliers’, built and planted the table centrepieces ourselves and each table was assigned a gin bottle instead of table numbers.

A Festival Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Masha Unworth (26)

I chose a La Sposa wedding dress from a boutique in Manchester. I decided it was the one for me because of the beautiful detail in the bodice and the plain but flowing skirt and train. The A-line cut suited my shape and I loved wearing it all day!

James did a lot of research into what he wanted to wear and chose to have a suit made by Beggars Run in East London, which he absolutely loved. He accessorised with Ted Baker shoes and socks, a vintage pocket watch (a gift from me) and Tatty Devine cufflinks.

The chief bridesmaid, my best friend Laura, chose a dress from Coast. It had a navy blue top with a turquoise skirt and floral detailing. The dress wasn’t a traditional bridesmaid’s dress but it went perfectly with the relaxed feel of the day. We also had two flower girls who both wore ivory dresses with a navy waist band from Etsy.

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love & laughter. a simply elegant wedding at natural retreats – kelly & sam

October 27th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

A Stunning Outdoor Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (20)

While we adore all the little details of a wedding that make it beautifully individual we also love to see the expressions of the bride, groom and their guests captured on camera, to get a real feel for the day.

Looking at the images of Sam and Kelly’s big day it’s clear to see that this was an emotional and upbeat wedding that was brimming with love and laugher, plus the odd tear of joy.

So not only is the setting of this wedding beautifully natural, but so too are the expressions of those involved!

With images by Paul Liddement Wedding Stories and video by Silver Sixpence Films.

Sam and Kelly from Silver Sixpence Films on Vimeo.

kelly says: In September 2014 while we were both living in Dubai, Sam surprised me with a proposal at sunset on our boat and had booked us into a suite at the Yas Viceroy hotel. We made our way into the marina to be greeted by a huge banner saying ‘I can’t wait to make you Mrs. North’. I cried, a lot.

Sam had already checked into the suite and packed everything that I owned. He said we should keep the news private for a night so we could enjoy the evening without checking our phones and went for an incredible dinner at Cipriani.

The next day he had planned lunch. As we walked into the restaurant I’m sure my heart stopped. All of my friends were there and had known for two months about the engagement. After lots of tears and champagne we all went back to the suite for a good old party.

A Stunning Outdoor Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (1)

We chose the 17th and 18th July as the dates for our wedding weekend as it was the Eid break, which is a public holiday in the UAE, allowing all of our friends to travel to the UK for the wedding.

We have family and friends from around the world and so we needed a venue that could accommodate around 100 people in the same place. The hunt began in Cheshire and Yorkshire as that’s where we’re both originally from. We quickly realised that we wanted an outdoor space and would pray for sunshine on the day. Sam discovered Natural Retreats and the decision was made instantly – 5 star accommodation in a woodland retreat was exactly what we wanted.

A Stunning Outdoor Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (2)

Given the beautiful natural surroundings we wanted to keep everything very simple and elegant, so the general theme was rural elegance. We also chose to keep everything in neutral in terms of the colour scheme to let the countryside speak for itself. We had lots of white flowers and greenery, with the bridal party in neutral tones.

A Stunning Outdoor Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (5)

When it came to my wedding dress I tried on a few dresses to see what style suited me and quickly fell in love with the form fitting Galia Lahav and Inbal Dror pieces. I found a designer, Anne Rashid, in Dubai who helped create the perfect dress for me. Hand beaded pearls for the strapless corset top, a tight fitting skirt with a long train for the daytime, and a second skirt which flared and was easy to dance in for the evening.

A Stunning Outdoor Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (8)

Sam had a bespoke tailored suit made in Abu Dhabi in blue, which he wore with tan Paul Smith shoes and light pink accessories. The groomsmen wore grey suits and ivory ties, all hired from Debenhams.

The bridesmaids were given a neutral colour palette to choose their dresses from. Some of the girls chose to have them tailored by my wedding dress designer and others got theirs from Needle and Lace.

A Stunning Outdoor Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (18)

Our photographer was Paul Liddement, who we discovered after looking through quite a few online portfolios and felt instantly drawn to his style which is romantic and natural – exactly what we wanted. Looking through his photos made us feel like we were witnesses to special moments in time, rather than looking at posed shots.

Paul was fantastic on the day. He blended in with our guests, he provided direction, managed the shots, and was quick and efficient. Initially we were concerned the photos would look too staged or posed and would take up too much time from the day but Paul made us feel relaxed and the entire bridal party had fun. Paul was excellent overall and we’d recommend him to anyone getting married. He was creative and really listened to what we wanted to achieve.

A Stunning Outdoor Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (21)

Our ceremony and reception were all in the same location so we didn’t need transport, however we did drive off in Sam’s TVR T350 sports car.

A Stunning Outdoor Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (28)

Our amazing florist, Alice, from Forage & Blossom, took our brief of white flowers and created beautiful bouquets, table settings and an archway from delphinium, larkspur, sweet peas, ammi, astrantia, norma jean rose, vendela spray rose and Annabel hydrangea, to name a few.

A Stunning Outdoor Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (27)

All of our stationery was done by my lovely friend Maria Gedeon, who designed everything with a logo for our initials and calligraphy for everything else.

A Stunning Outdoor Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (32)

We like to work hard and party harder so we wanted our wedding to have a little bit of fun injected into the evening and so our favours were bottles of Jägermeister.

Our beautiful cake was made by Sam’s mother, Fiona, who created a delicious masterpiece. The cake was decorated by our florist.

A Stunning Outdoor Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (42)

Sam found our entertainment, a band called The Hoops, and booked them before we’d even found our venue! They were fantastic and played a mixture of hits and old time classics. The dance floor was full all night.

A Stunning Outdoor Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (65)

We added a few special touches to the wedding to make it all the more memorable which included making a welcome book featuring photos of all of the guests so people could get to know each other. Our table plan was a giant hedge with Polaroid pictures hung on string which was a great talking point as we had sourced the funniest pictures of each person.

We rented a golf buggy for guests to get around on and decorated it with ribbon and flowers. We also made our flower chandeliers by painting some wagon wheels white and hanging white wisteria from them. For the evening we added some glow sticks, blow up musical instruments and confetti canons to the dancefloor.

A Stunning Outdoor Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (67)

Natural Retreats is beautiful and we would recommend it to other couples. The view from the ceremony deck was spectacular and the lodges housed all of the guests and were luxurious yet homely.

A Stunning Outdoor Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (70)

Looking back at the wedding there were so many fantastic moments; from my mum holding my hand as we came over the hill and could see all of the guests on the ceremony deck, to seeing Sam at the end of the aisle. Sam seeing me walk down the aisle to an acoustic version of Here Comes the Sun was very special and partying all night with our friends is something we’ll always remember.

A Stunning Outdoor Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (86)

For our honeymoon we jetted off to the Lux Resort in the Maldives for some much needed R&R!

A Stunning Outdoor Wedding at Natural Retreats (c) Paul Liddement Wedding Stories (77)

My top tip to other Brides Up North would be to remember that teamwork is key to planning a wedding. We tried to split responsibilities and included each other in any decisions. Set up a joint email account and don’t leave everything until the last minute. Sam should have practiced tying his bow tie before the big day!

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It’s Only Natural! A Real Wedding In North Yorkshire – Gill & Will

October 1st, 2012 | Julia Braime

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Getting the week off to a fabulous start, Gill and Will’s Real Wedding in North Yorkshire is an absolute feast for inspiration seekers – with a traditional ceremony, beautiful florals, a Papakata reception, plenty of homemade details and a bucket loads of flair.

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With amazing images by Vivid Impact Photography, get your Pinterest at the ready!

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Gill says:  We got engaged in Verona – Will got down on one knee down by the river. It was 4 July 2011 – ironically independence day!

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We were married on 1 September 2012.  Our ceremony was held in St Michael and All Angels Church in Barningham and our reception was at Natural Retreats, Richmond.

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I grew up in Newsham which is the next village along from Barningham so that was my local church and it was important for us to be married there as it holds a lot of memories.

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We chose Natural Retreats for the reception as we wanted somewhere where our guests would be able to stay for the weekend and we loved the ‘natural’ environment with the stunning views to have our teepee reception. We really love trees and there are loads at Natural Retreats so it seemed like to perfect choice of venue. It also meant that we could arrange all aspects of the venue ourselves, rather than someone doing this for us – this made it really personal.

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We were quite keen that we didn’t want to have a ‘theme’ for the wedding. We didn’t have one specific style; we just wanted to have a mix of traditional and modern. We wanted the overall look to be natural, stylish, fun and sharp, rather than homemade / ‘shabby chic’ style which isn’t really our taste (even though we made a lot of things ourselves)!

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My dress was a bespoke dress made by Andrea Bambridge in York. I knew I wanted sleeves of some description and lace and I couldn’t have been happier with the end result – it was the perfect dress for me.

I wore more conservative cream peep toes for the Church ceremony and then changed into my Vivienne Westwood heels (jelly shoes) for the rest of the day – they have a huge pink heart on the front and are Strawberry scented!! I also wore a simple veil with tear drop crystals on the edge. My hair piece was a headband from Glitzy Secrets which complemented the more natural elements of the wedding.

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We chose classic navy suits for the men and Will wore a navy tie, whereas the other groomsmen wore grey ties. Will wore a tie clip engraved with his initials.

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The Bridesmaids wore Oyster coloured dresses from Coast – I loved the bow at the top. They also wore coast necklaces to complement the dresses and cream pashminas.

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The Groomsmen had navy suits and grey ties and we got individual tie clips for each of the men, engraved with their initials.

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We used my parents’ cars – Dad and I travelled to Church in their Range Rover vogue (my Uncle Carl drove us) and me and Will later went from Church to the reception in this too, complete with a very welcome glass of bubbly and traditional cans on the back.  The bridesmaids also travelled in a Range Rover.

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For both of us the favourite part of the day was definitely the ceremony. We thought we would be too nervous/emotional to enjoy it but we really enjoyed the sincerity of the service and no nerves in sight!

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I carried a loose bouquet of British Scabius, Thistles, Gyp and Asparagus Fern.  Hutton Flowers florists in Northallerton sourced the flowers but we did the flower arrangements ourselves. One of my bridesmaids and I made the bouquets (not something either of us had ever tried before) and the night before the wedding me and my parents assembled the flowers for Church – we couldn’t find the lights in church so found ourselves trying to arrange them by torchlight the night before the wedding. Luckily we didn’t want any formal flower arrangements – we also had Olive Trees and Wisteria Trees in Church from Ravensworth Nurseries. 

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We added lots of special touches to the day.  Our welcome drinks were cans of ready mixed drinks with stripy straws – gin and pink grapefruit, Pimms and San Pellegrino.

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Each table had a mini Olive Tree on itand people could leave us a message on a paper leaf and hang it on the tree. We really like Olive Trees; they symbolise peace.

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Our table names were star constellations.

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Our favours were a sparkler and a face mask for each guest – these proved to be so much fun throughout the day and night. We wanted something that people could have fun with on the day rather than something that people would feel they had to keep / take home.

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I gave my bridesmaids Links of London ‘Team GB’ bracelets on the day, as a gift, as my previous initials were GB and my new initials are GB

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We used CWC Malings – Clive Wilkinson Catering – we can’t recommend these guys highly enough – absolutely amazing food and the service from the team of staff was second to none – very friendly and completely professional.

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Rhys from Vivid Impact Photography was fantastic to deal with throughout the whole process – he was so enthusiastic from day one and totally ‘got’ all of our ideas. The end result is that we have an amazing set of photographs that we couldn’t be happier with..they really capture the essence of the day.

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We had the open fire in the tents to create a cosy atmosphere – along with the candles on each table, this worked really well in terms of adding soft lighting.

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As a surprise for Will, I arranged a fireworks display – no one else knew about it apart from my parents and Michael at Natural Retreats.

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My mum made my cake for me and it was perfect – the top tier was fruit (which we have saved rather than using it on the day), the middle tier was lemon cake and the bottom tier was plain sponge. It was simply decorated with lace, flowers, hearts and a bride and groom on top of course!

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Val Jones played the Organ for us in Church during the signing of the register and for the hymns, we hired a String Trio for the arrival drinks and canapés part of the day and we hired the most brilliant band from York Undercovered – they were cool and professional and there was a packed dancefloor all night!

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The day after the wedding, we invited family and friends to our lodge for coffee on the veranda so that we could have a catch up about the day before. We then went straight to The Midland in Morecambe for one night. We then went to a ‘pod’ hotel in Birmingham for one night and flew to Santorini in Greece early the next day – bliss.

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When we got home, we had a few days here before we had to go back to work so we had some days out including a theme park and also had a quick last minute trip away to the Lake District.

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My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to make sure you try not to lose track of time in the morning and leave plenty of time to get your dress on and relax before heading off to the ceremony. Also just relax and enjoy the whole day.

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HEARTCongratulations Gill & Will! HEART

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Get in touch to see your own Real Wedding featured on the blog!

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  – Images © 2012 Vivid Impact Photography

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