Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

sweet on you. a pretty wedding at the ashes – lisa & james

September 24th, 2015 | Julia Braime

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Helen Russell Photography (26)

Today’s real wedding captivated us as soon as it landed in the Brides Up North inbox. Not only because it’s up there with the prettiest weddings we’ve seen, but also because so much thought and love has been poured into all the different elements of the day to ensure it is both personal & pretty!

When submitting her wedding, bride Lisa said some very kind words about our blog, which she used as the main source of guidance and inspiration for planning her own big day. We are blown away with the results and are so pleased that what we post on our pretty pages is of such use to our creative and stylish brides.

Prepare to swoon (a lot)…

With images by Helen Russell Photography.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Helen Russell Photography (11)

lisa says: We got engaged all the way back in July 2013. We used to date in Matlock Bath, Derbyshire, and James proposed where we used to frequent on the cliff top ‘Lover’s Walk’ overlooking the town, on one knee with an amazing vintage inspired engagement ring! It was how I’d always imagined us getting engaged, and luckily he’d had the same idea without us ever speaking about it!

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Helen Russell Photography (6)

We chose July 31st as our wedding date as we wanted a weekday summer wedding and knew for family with children the summer holidays would be best. We chose to wait two years to give us enough time to save up and have the wedding we wanted without rushing things or compromising on what we wanted, which really took the pressure off! The date is also one day after my grandparents’ wedding anniversary date, so tied that in beautifully.

We came across The Ashes venue whilst searching Derbyshire wedding venues. I’m from Derby, and the place has always been special to us, as well as the Peak District and the North of England generally being stunning anyway! As soon as we walked into the ceremony barn at The Ashes for our first viewing we knew it was where we were meant to be married, and didn’t look anywhere else, it just felt right! We wanted somewhere beautiful but with a laid back and rustic feel at the same time, and The Ashes had all of that and more.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Helen Russell Photography (14)

The theme naturally evolved into an English rose/country theme the more we chose! My dress started that as it’s covered in lace and chiffon roses, and the flowers followed suit. I’m so pale I’ve always been called an English Rose anyway! James works on a farm and as a tree surgeon, so lots of the country elements were inspired by him and his job, such as incorporating lots of wood (he cut all the centrepiece tree logs himself), the wheat in the boutonnieres, and the peonies, which he grows. The venue really helped complement our choice of theme. We’re quite laid back people, so things like just having the rolled up shirts and braces and mismatched bridesmaids dresses just worked for us.

We chose pale pinks and mint greens as the colour scheme to keep things natural but pretty. The venue was a great blank canvas, with lots of natural earthy wooden and stone colours, so pinks and greens stood out as soft and summery without being too over the top and distracting.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Helen Russell Photography (18)

My dress was Justin Alexander style 8711, a lace ball gown with a sweetheart neckline and cathedral length train in ivory, with lace and chiffon laser cut roses. I went into Courtyard Bridal Boutique in Kettering near where we now live to try a different Justin Alexander dress, but that one just wasn’t quite ‘the one’. I chose this to try on too while we were waiting as I loved the quirkiness of the roses, and once I tried it on and came out of the dressing room I was convinced – everyone gasped and there were a few tears! The dress was the perfect combination of fairy tale wedding with a fun quirky twist that suited us well. For the evening I switched to a Chi Chi London lace midi dress from ASOS, as I knew I couldn’t run about and dance all night in my daytime one!

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Helen Russell Photography (21)

James wore a pair of grey/brown tweed trousers, with a white shirt rolled up at the sleeves, brown leather braces and brown leather shoes. All the groomsmen were similar but with different braces. This was to keep with the laid back style and just to suit us. James also wanted to show off his amazing half sleeve tattoo, which had elements inspired by our engagement, and we had hoped it was going to be a hot day (we were right!) so opted to have no jackets.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Helen Russell Photography (23)

The bridesmaids were all in pale pink, but all the dresses were completely different. I wanted them all to feel comfortable on the day, and we didn’t want the uniformed look of all girls being the same. This way they all got to pick a dress they felt suited them and their body types. The dresses were from Debenhams, BHS, and ASOS. The flower girl’s dress was from Monsoon, and she looked like an angelic little fairy princess!

Jenn Edwards hair and makeup team were on hand to help me and my bridesmaids complete our looks. Jenn and the team really put us at ease on the morning of the wedding. They were so professional and got to work right away making everyone look fabulous and were a great girly addition to the wedding morning, which should be a fun and girly part of the day. I would highly recommend!

On the morning of the wedding the girls and I got ready on site in the lovely Old Dairy cottage, which meant we didn’t require transport. For James, as a surprise a hired a DeLorean! This wasn’t in keeping with the theme of the day at all, but I wanted to do everything I could to make sure the day was as much about him and his loves as much as it was mine, and he does love that car! It collected him from where he was staying the night before and he was in total shock! It was great fun to have in the pictures too, and a once in a lifetime experience for him.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Helen Russell Photography (25)

Our photographer was Helen Russell Photography. Choosing a photographer was one of the most, if not the most important element for us, as once the day is over the photos are what you have left to treasure. We wanted a photographer that had a slightly more artistic and soft almost vintage style, without being too over processed and cheesy, and after lots of Googling we found Helen! We had an amazing engagement shoot with her, and she was a joy to work with, so professional and creative. On the day she was like a wedding ninja, appearing everywhere at the right place at the right time to get some amazing shots. She captured some really great moments for us, and the images feel soft and romantic.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Helen Russell Photography (31)

The flowers were all provided by Campbell’s Flowers in Sheffield. After finding them online and meeting the owner, Tracy, we knew they were the florist for us. They really care about creating the right flowers for your day, and have a wonderful fresh, handpicked feel to their arrangements. The bouquet was mostly roses, with hydrangeas, dahlias and peonies, and was a great mix of soft pastel colours. They also provided the flowers for my hair, which was perhaps one of my favourite elements of the day! The most beautiful big pale pink rose, with smaller foliage and tea roses – they just finished off my outfit and looked stunning.

The flowers used for decoration were also from Campbell’s. We had an assortment of vases for the centrepieces on the tables and windows to add to the relaxed feel, and Campbell’s filled them with gypsophila, roses and dahlias. It all just looked so fresh picked and colourful. They even filled our teapot and teacups on the top table which suits our love of tea so well! We had rose petals to decorate the aisle, and hydrangea petals for confetti.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Helen Russell Photography (35)

Most of the decorations were handmade, and my good friend Angela really helped craft some of the more amazing decorations, such as our welcome sign, Mr & Mrs light up letters, and our amazing wreath for our ceremony. We had more than 70 meters of bunting in the reception barn, and lots of lovely handmade lace bunting in the ceremony barn too. We wanted little personal handmade touches everywhere to bring our personalities and love of crafts into the day, so we had handmade confetti cones and programme fans too.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Helen Russell Photography (38)

We decided not to do favours on people’s places, as so often they seem to get left behind, so we opted to do napkins with personalised luggage tags and engraved wooden cookies with wheat and lavender for the tables, and had a separate table with homemade jams, honey, teabags and wild flower seeds for people to collect after the meal. That way guests could choose what they wanted to take home and nothing was wasted or left behind.

Our cake was from Pretty Fancy Cakes in Derbyshire. Faye at PFC was brilliant in listening to us describe our day and create a cake around that. It was four tiers of white icing, with the same lace piped on that was on my dress, icing peonies and petals, and our tattoo emblem (we have a matching LJ logo tattoo on both our wrists!). I also, as another surprise for James, had a Lego cake made with little Lego toppers – I know he loves Lego, and again wanted him to have special touches on the day that I knew would represent him and his hobbies.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Helen Russell Photography (41)

The wedding breakfast food was a quite traditional, an English three course meal with ratatouille tart or salmon for starters, and a choice of chicken with a duck farce, beef with a Tio Pepe reduction, or butternut squash and pecorino crumble for mains. The dessert was a selection of three mini desserts so everyone could enjoy a bit of a variety. The food was so well presented at The Ashes – Jenkinsons were the caterers. For the drinks reception we kept it laid back and fun with Pimms with fresh fruit and fruity Old Mout ciders for the summer’s day.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Helen Russell Photography (43)

As entertainment, we chose to have Dan and Jess from Replay Acoustic Duo sing throughout the day. They were a fantastic touch, as they played a great variety of non-cheesy songs from all genres with their own lovely laid back acoustic feel. Jess’ voice was angelic, and it again added to that laid back summer fun vibe.

We also had Polly’s Parlour vintage ice-cream van for an alternative to traditional canapés for the drinks reception post-ceremony. We’re big Volkswagen fans (all our tables were named after VW cars!) and Florence is such as fun and beautiful campervan. All the guests commented on how tasty and refreshing the ice-cream was, and it looked amazing in the photos, so colourful and cute.

We also chose to put on some lawn games on the grassy area and hired some huge light up ‘love’ letters for the dance floor. These were a great focal point for the day and the evening, especially as we opted to have an iPod disco rather than a DJ. Our first dance, which was a waltz (as we ballroom dance anyway) looked lovely against the sparkle of the letters.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Helen Russell Photography (44)

We would definitely recommend The Ashes venue to other couples. First of all the location is stunning, the views are breath-taking and it’s immaculate inside and out! With its stone walls and wooden beams it’s a great blank canvas, no crazy carpets or curtains to try and work around, it’s just yours to play with! The other brilliant thing is that they set everything up and pack everything away for you – I can’t tell you how much of a help that was, you can just sit back and enjoy arriving on the day to everything being decorated, and at the end of the night can leave without a worry!

My favourite part of the day was our first look shoot. We knew it was something we wanted to do for a while, and we were so right to do it. It was probably the only part of the day that we got to experience just for us. No crowds of people watching. We got to keep the moment of seeing each other for the first time for ourselves, and weren’t at either ends of an aisle. We got to hug, kiss and high five and say how we felt before all the madness began! It really helped calm our nerves pre-ceremony, and made us feel like we went into the ceremony already united. We also got some lovely photo and video moments from it. I’d recommend a first look shoot to anyone considering it, as it really is a special moment to share.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Helen Russell Photography (50)

We chose to visit Sri Lanka for our honeymoon. We wanted somewhere that was paradise with beauty and beaches, but also plenty to see and do, as we can’t sit still for long! This worked really well, as we spent some days lazing on the beach and by the pool with a good book and a cocktail, and some days seeing Sri Lanka, riding elephants, visiting tea and spice gardens, seeing the wildlife on boat tours, and taking in the culture. The weather and surroundings were incredible, and the people so friendly. We really got chance to unwind.

A Pretty Wedding at The Ashes (c) Helen Russell Photography (48)

My top tip for other Brides Up North, apart from the first look shoot, would be to really enjoy the planning and the lead up to the wedding. The wedding day is just a few hours and goes so quick, so try to really stop and enjoy the time choosing lovely things with your suppliers, crafting those special details, trying on that dress, and having the family and friends time. There won’t be another time in your life like it, and it’s important to enjoy the wedding as a journey and an experience, not just for the day.

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