September 19th, 2018 | Alexis Forsyth
Today’s real wedding is something of a showstopper; we hardly know where to begin as there are so many Insta-worthy moments and details to pore over.
Our featured couple Laura and Ash tied the knot at the astoundingly beautiful Peckforton Castle in Cheshire in May. And we love what they done with the venue – think blossom trees, floating candles, a whimsical floral arch and a candlelit aisle lined with ivory petals. The stuff of fairy-tale dreams. And that’s before we even mention their moreish food and drink line-up of a chocolate truffle brownie cake, elderflower cocktails and a hog roast!
Music played an instrumental (ahem) role in the couple’s big day. Not only did the bride and groom surprise their guests with a performance of two of their own songs, but Laura’s uncle performed a violin solo during their ceremony too, and they also had a string quartet later in the day. And, we have to confess, Laura’s wedding gift to her hubby-to-be – a guitar – is one of the most memorable and thoughtful we’ve ever seen!
With images by Sansom Photography.
laura says: We got engaged on our third anniversary of dating – Valentine’s Day 2017. We had a spontaneous date in the Peak District village of Castleton in the Hope Valley, not far from Sheffield. We had just finished dinner in a charming little restaurant called 1530. Over coffee, our first and favourite pastime, Ash inconspicuously reached into his pocket, to offer me a ‘sweet’ he’d picked up earlier that day – but instead he presented the ring, brightly sparkling in the humble glow of the empty room! It was a complete shock to me, I was instantly brought to tears. The sweetest, softest words were spoken as he moved to one knee beside me, where he received my resounding “yes”. The kind waitstaff re-entered the room in delight and took our photo.
Our wedding date was Saturday 19th May 2018. Although we liked the idea of an autumn wedding, spring 2018 was far enough to plan and ensure a large amount of family and friends from abroad would able to attend and sooner than waiting until autumn 2018. Within three weeks of our engagement, we confirmed our date with the registrar and venue. Ten months later, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their wedding date as the 19th of May, also! We were delighted to share the day (and the beautiful weather).
We initially thought of getting married in London where I spent my childhood in Chiswick, but due to my elderly grandparents living in Cheshire now, we wanted to find an option closer and easier for them to enjoy. Through a casual Google search, Ash came across the incredible Peckforton Castle in Tarporley, Cheshire. From our first glimpse in pictures, we were blown away by the beauty of the castle and grounds. It included stunning countryside surroundings, historic Grade I listed buildings and the perfect backdrop for our dream come true. We went to an open house conveniently that next week and wanted to look no further.
The venue is licensed for civil ceremonies only, which we chose to follow with a Christian blessing and arranged for my uncle to be our celebrant, rather than a local reverend, as this was more personal and meaningful for us. My uncle is also a first violinist for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and performed a violin solo to a song we chose called Vapor by husband and wife duo, Gungor, during a candle memorial to honour those no longer with us. We included readings by family members: excerpts from The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis and 1 Corinthians 13 before an inspiring closing and prayer.
While we didn’t have a set theme, our style was a gilded floral romance. We chose a palette of ivory, blush and nude against lush foliage of eucalyptus and olive leaves.
Blush and gold were our feature colours as they complemented our florals delicately without distracting from the castle décor. These worked well for spring and kept the mood light and romantic.
I chose a dress by MillaNova, which I purchased from Elements of Serenity Boutique, Swindon. I had originally seen the dress on Pinterest but had no details on who the designer was. After two visits to other boutiques and countless evenings scrolling through my dress inspo board, I hunted down the details and found that only one boutique in the country carried this line! I visited EOS as soon as possible with my aunty who lives in Cheshire and my iPad as we facetimed my mum who lives in the States. We knew that this was the one! I had tried on so many chic, fitted dresses that looked and felt lovely but hadn’t spoken to me the way this MillaNova dress did – I wasn’t initially looking for a ball gown, but this made me feel so beautiful and most like myself. It was a wonderful experience without the hype or pressure you see on TV. The boutique didn’t rush me or over-influence, they were excellent from start to finish.
February 24th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
Today’s bride and groom visited Peckforton Castle and fell hard for the venue’s vintage, other-worldly charm – so much so that they introduced a subtle fairy-tale theme as they planned their wedding. Everything from the ornate script of their stationery, to the blossom trees lining the aisle, is a nod to the romance of a perfect storybook.
Charlotte looked every inch the perfect princess bride in her Diane Legrand gown and blue Manolo Blahniks, and she’s a girl after our own hearts – her advice to brides-to-be touring venues and bridal boutiques is, “Enjoy all of the free champagne”. We totally agree.
With photography by Adam Riley Photography
charlotte says: We got engaged on 18th June 2015 on a quiet beach in Portugal exactly nine years after we officially became a couple. Tom had set up his camera to record the whole proposal but told me that he wanted get some nice shots of us together using the self-timer on the camera. I had no idea that he would propose and instantly burst into tears (after saying yes, of course)!
We originally wanted the wedding to take place on 18th June 2016 (exactly one year after the proposal and ten years of being together) – however, when we found our dream venue they had no availability for that date. We tried to get it as close as we could and chose 7th July 2016.
We got married at Peckforton Castle in Cheshire. It was the first venue we looked at and before we had even walked into the main grounds I was in tears – so were our mums! It just felt so magical and enchanting. When we walked into the Great Hall there were even more tears and we all knew that was the place where we wanted to make our promises to each other. We made a provisional booking there and then!
When we first started planning our day we didn’t have a theme in mind. We were getting married in a castle and thought vaguely about having a subtle fairy-tale theme. It wasn’t until we started thinking about our stationery and flowers that we really started to entertain the idea. Our invites were in the style of a vintage fairy-tale book complete with a drawing of the castle and a poem that we wrote ourselves which wouldn’t be out of place in a Dr Seuss book. Instead of table numbers we chose to write chapters of a book with each table having a chapter number and a short story of our relationship at that time. We called our top table ‘The Next Chapter…’
Colour-wise, we wanted to keep everything neutral and all our flowers were white with green accents. The bridesmaid’s dresses were a very soft pink and the boys’ morning suits were navy which provided a nice contrast.
My dress was by German designer Diane Legrand and purchased at Society Brides in Liverpool. When I originally set out to find the perfect dress I thought I wanted a simple fishtail – how wrong I was. After trying on a few dresses in this style I wasn’t really feeling like a ‘bride’ and decided to try on a princess style gown. I instantly fell in love with the style and quickly narrowed down my specifications: namely, lace bodice, detailing at the waist and a huge train! I then decided to go for a long double layer veil with lace detailing. I then finished my look with blue Manolo Blanhik shoes: my ‘something blue’.
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October 21st, 2016 | Alexis Forsyth
Today’s elegant real wedding was arranged in just six months and perfectly illustrates the beauty of tying the knot in the winter season.
The couple, Lorna and Dave, had been together for more than five years before getting engaged. Briefly contemplating a beach wedding in the Caribbean sunshine, the couple couldn’t resist the allure of staying close to home and celebrating their big day at the magnificent Peckforton Castle.
Dressed in an off-the-shoulder, fluted fishtail gown, Lorna was every bit the fairy-tale princess.
With images from Jonny Draper Photography.
lorna says: We got engaged on 23rd May 2015, at Tre-Ysgawen Hall, Anglesey, Wales. At this point we had been together for more than five years, so I’d pretty much given up hope, but it turns out he was waiting for me to stop hinting so that it would come as a surprise. Dave had taken me away for the weekend and chosen Wales because of my Welsh roots. We enjoyed spa treatments on the Saturday and even joked in the Jacuzzi that Dave was rubbish at keeping secrets! Later that day, he got down on one knee in a lovely little meadow in the grounds of the hotel. I was so stunned he had to prompt me for a response as his knee was getting wet from the grass!
We tied the knot on Thursday 17th December 2015. We both wanted a winter wedding and weren’t concerned about the weather. We love Christmas time, so thought we could make the most of the gorgeous festive decorations at our venue, Peckforton Castle in Cheshire. We also first met on 17th January so there was certain symmetry to the date.
We got married in the Great Hall at Peckforton. Dave wanted to either wed on a beach in the Caribbean or in a castle. As I’m red head and not a huge fan of sand – the decision was quickly made! We looked at a number of other locations in and around Cheshire, but Peckforton was by far the most magical and perfect venue.
We both love to travel so our table names were places we had visited together and our table plan was a map of the world. We also had a vintage suitcase for our cards. For us, this signified that we had already been on many adventures, and that we are now embarking on another big adventure together into married life.
We tried to keep a personal touch throughout the wedding, with my sister designing our wedding invitations and other stationery, and my mum making the most fabulous snowflake wedding cake. Overall, we were going for an understated but elegant look.
Our colour scheme was dark purple. It’s a rich shade that stands out for a winter wedding and it also complemented the decor in the castle – and we both love the colour!
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April 14th, 2016 | Rachel Parry
Fairy-tale weddings don’t come much more magical than today’s big day celebrations.
From Maria and Tommy’s choice of wedding venue and pretty pink colour scheme, through to their Disney inspired cake and the bride’s sparkling princess style dress, today’s real wedding could be taken straight from the pages of a story book.
So let us start at the beginning. Once upon a time…
With images by Zen Photographic.
maria says: We got engaged outside the Abbey in Bath. We were celebrating our two-year anniversary and Bath is one of our favourite cities in the UK. Tommy got down on one knee in front of Bath Abbey as it is a really spectacular landmark, especially when it’s all lit up at night. It was in the evening and it was February so it was quite dark and no one was around – it was just us, so it felt really special. I was so shocked I didn’t actually say anything! We celebrated later on with vodka instead of champagne because I’m allergic to wine!
We got married on Saturday 14th March 2015. We chose this date because we wanted a spring wedding and the date was close to our original anniversary. Because you can’t guarantee the weather in the UK, we knew that booking it in March meant we would be totally prepared for the cold, wind, rain or even snow! We would have been heartbroken if we’d booked an August wedding and it had been a rainy day, so at least this way we were prepared for all eventualities.
We got married at St Helen’s Church in Tarporley and then had our drinks reception, wedding breakfast and evening reception at Peckforton Castle. It was important to us both and our families that we get married in a church and St Helen’s is a beautiful church nearby to Peckforton Castle, which made it an ideal choice. We chose Peckforton because it was by far the most stunning and impressive venue we went to see. We both fell in love with it immediately and, when we took my mum and sister back to see it, they agreed it was perfect. It was a dream fairy-tale castle.
We didn’t really have a theme to begin with, we just wanted things which were ‘us’. However, it soon turned into a bit of a fairy-tale theme because of the castle venue. We designed our own invitations, our sister-in-law made an amazing Rapunzel castle cake and our first dance was to Love in an Open Door from Frozen. Also, my dress was from Alfred Angelo’s Disney range!
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May 21st, 2015 | Rachel Parry
There’s something extremely enchanting about saying ‘I do’ in a castle setting as today’s couple demonstrate.
Every inch the fairy-tale bride, Caroline wore a stunning Maggie Sottero organza ball gown for the big day and carried a romantic bouquet of pink and ivory roses, peonies and ranunculas.
Add to this some incredible floral displays, stunning grounds and a fine feathered ring bearer and you’ve got one very grand affair indeed.
With images by Martin Hambleton.
caroline says: We got engaged back in June 2011 whilst on holiday in Turkey, during a visit to the harbour in Fethiye.
Upon returning we set the date for Sunday, 8th June 2014 at Peckforton Castle, Tarporley, Cheshire. I spotted Peckforton online whilst looking for potential venues and I was instantly drawn. It just looked so beautiful. After arranging a visit that was it, we loved everything about it and we knew our guests would too.
We didn’t have a theme as such, just a bit of everything we like and loved. Our colour scheme was silver, grey, cream and ivory.
My mum chose my dress for me at Brides Gallery near Chorley. The ladies their Alison and Liz were amazing and so helpful. The dress I wore was a Maggie Sottero organza ball gown called Hanaleigh. It was a sweetheart fitted dress, with a ruched bodice, loads layers and hand-sewn flower detail. It was huge and so fairy-tale like. Far from what I originally thought I would go for, seeing as I was looking at a non-detailed, no frills, slim-fitted dress. But I loved it and I knew it was the one.
My bridesmaids wore silver/grey A-line/sweetheart floor-length chiffon dresses with pleated and beaded/sequin detail. I bought these by recommendation from JJ’s House online.
We used Hipswing for the lighting and entertainment. They also supplied our chair covers and sashes as well as the sparkle lit dancefloor. We would highly recommend them. Our DJ Dan was great, he played all our favourite songs and the dance floor was never empty. Tansy and the team were so helpful with helping organise our day and nothing was too much trouble.
We also used Eventures wedding venue decorators. The team did an amazing job for the ceremony and the wedding breakfast. Everything looked incredible and the flowers and bouquets were stunning too. I had a hand-tied bouquet of white and ivory roses, pink avalanche roses, peonies and ranunculas, finished with lace and diamante pin detail. We cannot thank them enough.
Our photographer was Martin Hambleton. We met Martin at a wedding fayre, he was so easy to talk to and his work was just incredible and exactly what we were looking for. Knowing I would be nervous on the day, Martin made me feel at ease and half the time I didn’t even know I was being photographed. Martin captured every aspect of the day. Our photographs are beautiful and we cannot thank him enough either!
Chris designed all of our stationary; the invites, order of the day, the seating plan, place names, table numbers and also the favour boxes. We both then did the making and the embellishments. It took a long time but was well worth it.
For some extra décor I bought tall lanterns for the entrance to the Great Hall and vintage birdcages which I decorated with flowers, pearls and diamantes bought from Country Baskets. I also did my own sweets and treats table.
As a special touch we had Mango the owl deliver our rings during the ceremony and a falconry show at the drinks reception, which was enjoyed by all.
My auntie had our cake made for us as a wedding gift by family friends who have done this for many years. They did an amazing job. We had a three tiered cake; one lemon sponge, one Victoria and the other was fruit. It had ivory icing with vintage detailing in lace, pearl flowers and fallen petals.
For the transport on the day we hired two Imperial Landaulette cars from Horgans. I have to say these are by far the best supplier in wedding cars you’ll find. The cars were immaculate and the drivers were lovely. They arrived in plenty of time and even got us to the venue, some 40 miles away 20 minutes early, avoiding all the traffic, road works and chaos that some our guests got stuck in. Definitely number one for reliability. Thankfully all ended well and everyone made it in time.
I couldn’t pick a favourite part of the day as I loved everything about it. Following our special day we jetted off on honeymoon to Puerto Vallarta in Mexico.
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be to try and relax during the lead up to the wedding – don’t stress and enjoy every moment. It’s your day after all. Everything will be perfect.
March 26th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Avid Brides Up North reader Sarah’s wedding to her new husband Ross was a truly gorgeous affair. From her lace Victoria Jane dress (oh, how we love a gown with beautiful back detailing) to the stately setting and vintage transport, everything about the big day is stunning.
We also absolutely adore the theme for this fabulous North West wedding – love is the key.
So join us as we unlock and relive Sarah and Ross’ big day.
sarah says: We got engaged on 14th August 2013. This was the day before my birthday and Ross had surprised me with a night at Peckforton Castle in Tarporley. Whilst he was checking in, they told him there would be a tour of the hotel before dinner. I was more concerned about traipsing around in my heels but Ross managed to persuade me (as he had planned this it was a good job!) The guy showing us round took us all around the hotel, telling us the history which was great. In the grounds of the castle there is a chapel, as we walked in the whole place was filled with candles and looked beautiful. As I was looking around, Ross had gone down on one knee with a beautiful ring. I was so shocked and lost for words he had to ask me three times if it was a yes! We came out to a champagne reception and had the most amazing meal – it was perfect.
We chose to get married on 15th February 2015. It gave us 18 months to plan which we thought would be about right. We looked at having it on Valentine’s Day but we though guests might want to be on their own that day. Also it means that Ross has to buy me a present for Valentine’s and our anniversary now instead of having a combined one!
We got married at Adlington Hall & Gardens. We looked at a few venues, as we were having a civil ceremony, we knew we didn’t just want to get married in any old hotel room and none we saw were quite right. We made an appointment to view Adlington Hall and as soon as we walked into The Great Hall we were absolutely blown away by how stunning it was, it was the one! We loved the fact the whole place was ours for the day and we were truly treated like royalty. We also loved the fact we had two different venues in one. The ceremony in The Great Hall and wedding breakfast at the Hunting Lodge. From the very first meeting we had, the whole team were amazing professionals. This gave us confidence that the day would go smoothly. It was perfect!
We have two children Scarlett, aged eight, and Oscar, aged three, who were our flower girl and page boy at the wedding. Scarlett did a beautiful reading (A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton) at the ceremony which was very special and there were definitely a few tears shed by all. It was lovely to have them involved.
I came across the quote by Oliver Wendel Holmes – ‘love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness’ – and the whole ‘Love is the Key’ theme was born! I wanted something elegant and vintage that would reflect the history of the venue. Also very romantic with lots of candles, beautiful flowers and pearls.
We chose lilac and ivory as our colour scheme. Purple is my favourite colour and this fitted in nicely for the vintage elegance we were trying to achieve.
I knew I wanted a fitted, mermaid style lace dress but I wanted something at the back of the dress that made it different. As soon as I saw the Victoria Jane Ivy dress I knew that ticked all the boxes! I loved the pearl draping at the back and I thought it looked very elegant and vintage, which is exactly what I was looking for. I teamed this with a beautiful pearl headpiece which reflected the draping on the dress. I got this from a shop on Etsy called Gilded Shadows, it came over from the United States and was perfect. I also wore a crystal edged veil which was my ‘something borrowed’ as it was my wonderful sister Rebecca’s wedding veil she let me use. My diamante encrusted shoes came from Next and matched perfectly.
Ross wore a dark blue suit with grey waistcoat by Paul Costelloe. He teamed this with a grey and lilac tie which brought the whole outfit together. He looked very handsome!
My two sisters wore long lilac chiffon dresses with embellished necklines, which they teamed with a pale lilac feather cape from Coast. They also wore a pearl hair comb from Highland Angel which finished the whole outfit beautifully, they looked stunning!
The three (yes three!) best men and our fathers all wore two-piece navy blue suits from Austin Reed. They teamed this with a lilac tie. My son and three nephews as pageboys wore navy suits from BHS with lilac bow ties and lilac trainers – super cute! My daughter’s dress was by Pearce Fionda, I also got a vintage style diamante brooch to put on the waistband which mirrored my dress.
My father, my son and I arrived at the venue in a stunning 1930s Beauford. The rest of the bridal party arrived in a Daimler State Limousine.
Our photographer was James Tracey. I had looked at loads of photographers on the internet and James’ images really stood out. We knew we didn’t want the cheesy poses and wanted natural, documentary style images that really told the story of our day. James did not disappoint at all. We met for a pre-wedding shoot which was fantastic as it really helped us to relax in front of the camera when wedding day nerves set in and gave us confidence that the images would be great on the day. The images we have are stunning and have really captured the best moments of the day. James really talked us through every stage but was so unobtrusive on the day, it was perfect. We were both blown away and would highly recommend him. So many of our guests have commented on how amazing the images are too!
I wanted an informal bouquet in lilac and ivory with foliage. I had seen the amnesia rose and knew I wanted them included as they are a beautiful lilac colour and look so vintage. I also included lavender in all the flowers as I love the smell and the colours and style matched perfectly with the day. I also got some vintage style pearl brooches which were put onto mine and my bridesmaids’ bouquets and really finished them off. The flowers were provided by The Wild Bunch in Macclesfield. They were absolutely fantastic and exceeded my expectations in how they translated my vision for the styling of the day.
The Wild Bunch also provided flowers for the decor. I wanted lots of candles and cluster vases with various flowers that tied in with my bouquet. We had this set up for the ceremony table and also the top table. We used some vases which my sister-in-law had used at her wedding last year which was a special touch. It was stunning and took my breath away when I first walked in. The smell of lavender was amazing. The tables had fish bowl centre pieces with matching flowers. I had sourced lots of mercury glass tea light holders as well as some gorgeous antique lilac coloured ones which had pearl details on. There were lots of holders in various shapes and sizes on every table and around the cake. It created such a romantic feel to the day. There were also scatters of table pearls which completed the look.
We gave our guests bottle openers shaped like a vintage key as favours. They seemed to like the practical gift! For the evening we made some hangover kits. I found some small muslin bags on Etsy and had them personalised and sent over from The States. I filled them with mints, plasters and Alka Seltzer and put them over a bottle of water. A lifesaver for those who were celebrating a bit too hard!
My amazing friend Nova made my cake despite being nearly eight months pregnant! It was a three-tier sponge cake of chocolate, lemon and vanilla – delicious! It was lilac and ivory and had lace effect icing on the top two tiers. There were ivory and amnesia roses, foliage and pearl droplets in between the bottom two tiers. I also had an amazing cake topper custom made from Better off Wed on Etsy which said Love is the Key.
Ross and I are massive foodies so this was a really important part of the day. We had a delicious selection of canapés after the ceremony with champagne and mulled wine, which was perfect for a winter wedding. For our wedding breakfast we wanted food that we love and decided on smoked salmon to start, fillet mignon, which was absolutely amazing and perfectly cooked, for main followed by profiteroles with chocolate rum sauce for the gents and raspberry creme brûlée with shortbread biscuit for the ladies with coffee and petit fours to finish. We had a choice of wine and champagne too. For the evening we had bacon, sausage and fish finger sandwiches. Just what was needed! The crepes just about finished us off but I managed to squeeze in a chocolate and Baileys one!
The food was unbelievable, all our guests couldn’t compliment it enough. We also used vintage champagne saucers for the toast. These had been tirelessly scoured for by Ross’ parents and sister Fran and had been used at her wedding last year. It was a lovely finishing touch and was extra special as they were hers.
We used the amazing pianist Guy Porteous, to play from the ceremony right through to the end of the wedding breakfast. He is fantastically talented and was a lovely extra special touch to have him there. In the evening we chose to have a DJ to get the party started. He is the resident DJ at Adlington Hall and did a great job getting everyone dancing with a variety of songs that catered for the varied age range.
In terms of special touches, I had seen the large light up letters people hire for weddings and thought they made such a great focal point. I hired our LOVE sign from Dressed to Impress at Blakemere and it added a real wow factor, perfect for photo poses! We also had a wish tree as an alternative guest book. I found some tags on eBay which guests wrote their ‘key to a happy marriage’ message on and hung them on the tree. This was decorated with fairy lights, crystals and some vintage keys borrowed from Ross’ parents. I spent ages making escort card tags for the guest seating plan. I attached small keys to each tag and hung them from a mirror on ribbons. The guests then took their own key tag to keep. It was something different and the guests loved it. We hired a crepe station as a surprise for our guests in the evening. Original Crepes were fantastic, they provided a huge choice of sweet and savoury crepes and they tasted delicious. It was something the guests weren’t expecting and everyone loved it!
I had a sign made for our son Oscar to carry down the aisle, it said: ‘Daddy here comes Mummy’. He’d been practicing holding it and walking so steadily and was so proud of himself when he got to the end! We also had framed photographs of both sets of parents on their wedding days, as they have both been married for over 40 years this was a good inspiration!
We hired a videographer as we wanted to capture the day and have a great memento of the action. We used Creative Videos, Barry was fantastic and as he had filmed my sister’s wedding previously, we knew the video would be fantastic.
We would absolutely recommend Adlington Hall! From the moment we walked in we were overwhelmed by how stunning it was. The food amazing, the staff so professional and accommodating. Everything was more than we hoped for, my dream wedding venue!
I think my favourite part of the day was when the doors opened to The Great Hall and I was ready to walk down the aisle. On my dad’s arm, looking at all the most important people in our lives all there just for us was totally overwhelming.
We are going on a family honeymoon with our children in the summer. My next planning project now I have no wedding to plan!
My top tip to other Brides Up North is to utilise the talents of your friends and family. My sisters Rebecca and Jessica did my makeup and hair and my talented friend Nova made our fabulous cake. It was extra special for them to play such an important role. Oh yes, and plenty of waterproof mascara!
From getting engaged Brides up North was my go to for inspiration. I have been an avid reader of the real life weddings and I’m so excited to now be one of them!
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