July 17th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
Fitness vloggers Lainey and her beau Lex are no strangers to the limelight, but Lainey confesses in today’s real wedding that the couple had considered eloping. All we can say is praise the wedding gods they didn’t, as instead we have this super-quirky and colourful big day full of rustic-themed inspiration to obsess over.
With almost half a million Instagram followers between them, not to mention their epic YouTube following, it’s no surprise that the couple turned to the social media platform for big day inspiration. More used to donning gym gear than formalwear, Lainey admits that the idea of dress shopping was “a bit of a nightmare” – however, Instagram saved the day and led her to the one: a simple and slinky lace number which accentuated her gym-honed curves.
So, over to Lainey to tell us more about a celebration featuring donkeys, llamas and vintage tractors, plus some great advice on how to DIY your socks off.
With images by Rustic Lovebirds Photography.
lainey says: We got engaged in New York. I surprised Lex with a trip to NYC for his birthday in November 2016. I‘d planned a number of surprises on the trip: nice restaurants, tickets for The Lion King on Broadway and, of course, tickets to go up the Empire State Building – and we decided it would be fun to dress like complete tourists to head up the famous tower. I had no idea he planned to surprise me, getting down on one knee at the top of the Empire State. I was in complete shock!
We booked our wedding as soon as we returned to the UK. I‘d waited three years for him to propose and didn’t want to wait to get married! I knew I wanted an intimate but quirky wedding and started researching barns in the area that could host our day. We visited The Wellbeing Farm, in Lancashire, and fell in love; Celia and all the staff were so helpful and enthusiastic about all the crazv ideas we had.
I wanted a May wedding – I love it when all of the springtime flowers are in bloom – and so we chose 6th May.
Both the ceremony and reception were held at the Wellbeing Farm. Lex’s Mum, Jane Griffin, is a wedding celebrant and she married us on the day.
We went for a rustic wedding theme. I wanted to have a lot of white lace with bright colours to contrast. My favourite colours are orange, red and yellow and, although they’re quite autumnal colours, I think they worked well on the day.
I’ve never been a girl who dreamed of a big white wedding and, honestly, if I’d had my choice we probably would have eloped. Shopping for a wedding dress, therefore, felt like a bit of a nightmare! However, Instagram was a great source of inspiration and I came across Australian wedding dress company Grace Loves Lace. They had simple yet elegant designs – I feel like wedding dresses are moving towards simpler, more elegant lines in general. You correspond via email and get help with choosing a style you like, then you send in your exact measurements and voila – six weeks before the wedding my dress arrived and it fit like a glove! I chose to design my own shoes as I couldn’t find ones to match and I used online shoe company Shoes Of Prey. The first pair arrived and I didn’t like them – plus they didn’t fit properly – but I simply returned them, requested adjustments and they came back perfect.
Our wedding rings were designed and made by Two Become One Jewellery.
June 5th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
Quirky and fun was the order of the day for teacher couple Andy and Sammi’s winter wedding. After an early morning visit to the registry office decked out in Christmas jumpers, this unconventional pair headed to 18th century corn mill, Fishlake Mill, for their stunning outdoor ceremony lit by candles and fairy lights.
Guests enjoyed a hog roast, a shot cake, hot chocolate and mulled wine and the entertainment just kept coming with a live band, a magician, photobooth and a string quartet. Phew – sounds exhausting!
No wonder bride Sammi says it was all a “bit of a blur’”. Here, she tells us more…
With images by Lara Frost Photography.
sammi says: We got engaged in the Lake District. We’ve been visiting the Lake District during October half-term with family every year since we met, and hope to continue this tradition for many years to come.
On this particular visit, we had a week with family and then a week on our own. On one of the days it was particularly sunny, so we went on a long walk around Elterwater. Looking back, the day was filled with many opportunities for a beautiful proposal up on the moors with stunning views. After sitting on a rocky ledge admiring the countryside with the sun setting for an abnormally long amount of time and a very tense Andy… we went home.
Following this, we then went to an incredible Michelin starred restaurant (which was amazing despite feeling slightly out of place with our strong Yorkshire accents – barely understood by the poor waiter – and complete cluelessness about half of the items on the menu which led to a lot of nodding and smiling). Not that we were too concerned though, as a few drinks helped us blend into our swanky surroundings rather quickly – in our eyes. It was a fantastic evening and has left us with lots of memories. Still no ring though…
Finally, on the journey home, I was really cold and asked to borrow Andy’s coat. He refused, because of the ring in his pocket. As we got to the edge of the lake where our lodge was, he got down on one knee and proposed. Although it wasn’t quite what he’d originally planned, it was still perfect.
Our wedding date was 21st December 2016. We chose the date partly because it fitted with the school holidays – we’re both teachers – and partly because we liked the idea of a winter wedding but mostly because we loved the idea of getting married as the sun was setting with lots of fairy lights and candles (and a more flattering light for photos).
We got married at Fishlake Mill in South Yorkshire, as they had a beautiful pagoda and would let us have our ceremony outside in mid-December – no matter what the weather (we were hoping for the best). We did the legal bit at the registry office early that morning with two witnesses, all dressed in Christmas jumpers. We didn’t consider this as our ‘official’ ceremony, although it technically was.
To us, our ‘actual’ ceremony was led by a close family friend, Andrea Bonser, a celebrant who made our ceremony quirky and humorous – perfect, we thought, to reflect us. Also, she too was willing to marry us at 3.45pm, outside, mid-December no matter the weather.
The theme? As I said, we were going for quirky and fun. Hopefully it came across like that, anyway. We aimed for a less formal affair than normal, starting our wedding at 3.45pm and, rather than a sit down meal, we had a hog roast. We changed quite a lot of the traditional elements; instead of a fruit cake, for example, we had a ‘shot’ cake, which seemed to go down well and certainly settled our nerves.
I wore an ivory drop-waist dress from It’s Bliss Bridalwear. I chose it as I thought it was wintery in style and matched our loose theme quite well. For shoes, I wore black sparkly wellies and warm, fluffy socks when outside and some little sparkly heels for inside.
Andy wore a tweed three-piece suit and a bow tie from Moss Bros.
February 16th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth
If a bucket load of quirkiness is your thing, then you’re going to love this afternoon’s third installment of gorgeous – one beauty of a real wedding, set in Newcastle Upon Tyne.
Jess and Stephen tied the knot at As You Like It in Jesmond last year, transforming the intimate city venue into a hullabaloo of rainbow-bright colours, gorgeous flowers, fairy lights, flamingoes and even Prosecco gummy bears!
We don’t want to spoil it for you though, so scroll down for all the oh-so-pretty pictures and wonderful details…
With images by Bennett Media
jess says: We got engaged in Italy. We were at Marina Grande in Sorrento, which is a local fishing harbour where Sophia Loren starred in Italian cinema. The local fishermen bring in their catch of the day and take it straight to the restaurants to dish up on your plate. Stephen drank lots and lots of Chianti and proposed, down on one knee, on the beach by the harbour. It was a complete surprise…
“Jess my darling on this Italian night
I hope that you will think it’s right,
To take this ring a gift for life
To honour me and be my wife”
I jumped up and down in the sand screaming yes then it was off for Champagne and gelato.
We got married on 12th August 2016. Summer is our favourite time of year as everyone is in good spirits because it’s the best chance of sunshine and, luckily for us, the sun had his hat on that day!
We only ever looked at one venue – As You Like It in Jesmond, Newcastle. It’s cool, quirky and has fairy lights – what more could anyone want? It suited us and our vibe, and we are both big cocktail fans (well, one of us more than the other!).
There was no religious element to our wedding, just tears of laughter, joy and happiness. It really was the best day of our lives.
The style was vintage meets quirky, weird, wacky and wonderful. My mum and me collected all sorts of quirky weird wonderfulness ranging from pink flamingoes to gold parrots. We had a full vintage tea set, old records, black and white postcards, hibiscus flowers for the Prosecco, along with Prosecco gummy bears. There were cocktails, magicians and a whole tropical rainforest – it was the best vintage mish mash ever!
My colour scheme was every colour under the rainbow! (Seriously, it was!)
The bridesmaids were in pastels, meanwhile the groom was in burgundy red tweed, and the ushers and best man wore dogtooth tweed and burgundy braces with vintage badges.
My flowers were breathtaking – boho gypsy style with lots of peonies. Some of the flowers were even imported especially; they were so unusual.
My hair was like Rapunzel and plaited with flowers and gold feathers. I wanted to look like Downton Abbey meets boho bride, so I went with a dress from The Wedding Dress Company in Corbridge. It was ivory lace over cafe latte silk encrusted with old-fashioned antique jewels. It was divine! Stella York made it and I got Alexander McQueen shoes to match, and finished off the look with a Swarovski veil.
Stephen wore a burgundy tweed skinny fit suit from Next along with a shirt and cravat from Woven in Durham paired with brown brogues. The groomsmen wore summer tweed from Woven in Durham and the bridesmaids wore pastel 1950’s style dresses with petticoats from ASOS.
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December 14th, 2016 | Alexis Forsyth
Today on the blog, we escape to Cheshire, to the captivating 17th century Hyde Bank Farm for Ali and Dave’s glorious summer wedding.
We’ve seen all kinds of unique and curious wedding themes on Brides Up North, but this is the first time we’ve encountered Lego – and we love it!
From cute Lego-inspired cake toppers and snazzy cufflinks and socks to Christmas baubles (yes, you read that one right!) – this is a wedding brimming with originality.
With images by Steven Rooney.
ali says: We got engaged in Mykonos in Greece. Dave had secretly purchased the ring and asked my dad beforehand. He was almost caught out by airport security staff who decided to go through his bag twice! Unable to wait any longer, he proposed on the first night, at the hotel, under the air conditioning, boiling hot as we had got lost on the way back from dinner!
Our wedding took place on 25th June 2016. We chose this date as there were only three dates left for 2016 at our reception venue, Hyde Bank Farm, and as I am a massive Christmas lover, it was fairly significant being six months to/from Christmas.
We got married at Norbury Church in Hazel Grove. I have connections with Norbury having grown up going there, and my dad is a clergyman there too (although he didn’t do the service!). We both wanted a church wedding so it fitted the bill perfectly.
We had a Lego theme. Our cake toppers were Lego figures and the groom, best man, groomsmen and father of the bride/groom all had different coloured Lego cufflinks with matching socks. We chose this theme as we’re both big kids at heart.
As for the colour scheme, we picked mint with a hint of blush. We thought this combination was quite summery and mint is one of those colours that suits everyone. The bridesmaids looked gorgeous in their mint dresses.
I eventually went with an Enzoani strapless mermaid wedding dress after trying on quite a number of different dresses. I saw the dress online, spent a while tracking it down, tried it on – and that was it – job done! It was very flattering and easy to get around in. The dress ticked all the boxes and also gave me the option of wearing a lace topper so I had two looks on the day. It was from the Wedding Boutique in Knutsford, which has since rebranded to Felicity Cooper bridal. Shoes wise, I got a pair of Rachel Simpson Matilda shoes online – only two inches high, and so lovely and comfortable.
My grandma kindly offered me her veil to wear for the ceremony which was a really special touch. She and my grandad got married in 1948 so it was very old! Unfortunately though it didn’t match my dress, so instead of wearing it, we draped it over the table that we signed the register on at the wedding to have it on show. I’m not sure how many people were aware of it but it was very special to us that it was there.
For hair and makeup, I booked Rebecca Anderton for my four bridesmaids and myself. She was so lovely and everything turned out great.
Dave wore a navy suit from Moss Bros with a mint coloured cravat, and paired the outfit with a pair of brown shoes from Next. The groomsmen also wore the same navy suit and mint coloured cravat from Moss Bros. They wore navy waistcoats whereas Dave donned an ivory waistcoat.
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August 17th, 2016 | Rachel Parry
There are wedding venues with the wow-factor and then there’s the likes of Le Petit Chateau, a brand new venue to the North East, which pushes the jaw-dropping bar even higher.
When we first learned that the award-winning Apartment Group were working on a new wedding venture following the success of their other venues, including the gorgeous Newton Hall, we were told to expect something luxurious and different – and that’s exactly what they’ve delivered.
Situated within beautiful countryside in Otterburn, Northumberland, Le Petit Chateau started life in the form of a 17th Century Coaching Inn, in its previous incarnation as The Percy Arms Hotel, but it has now been transformed into a first class wedding venue, complete with spectacular function rooms, boutique bedrooms and perfectly manicured Mediterranean Gardens.
As we heard more about the venue during its development stages the excitement grew, we were intrigued by its South of France influences and talk of a breath-taking ceremony room, and then as images of the venue started to emerge, we became desperate to see for ourselves if Le Petit Chateau lived up to the hype.
Thankfully we didn’t have to wait long as the wonderful Apartment Group team invited us for an overnight stay at Le Petit Chateau, not long after opening its doors. As Julia had not long welcomed her beautiful second daughter Lili, I took one for the team (it’s a hard life) and snapped up the invitation, taking my mum along with me for a girly weekend away (much to my boyfriend’s disappointment).
On the weekend that we visited the venue was hosting no less than three weddings, one on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, which proves its instant popularity. As an exclusive use venue Le Petit Chateau only ever hold one wedding per day and the building has been cleverly designed so that brides, grooms and guests don’t clash with previous wedding parties, or members of the public.
Upon arrival we enjoyed a drink in the William de Percy, Coaching Inn and Creperie, which sits on the site of the old Percy Arms. Its warm atmosphere and chic rustic décor give us a slight taste of what’s to come. It’s not long before we are shown to our room and the real opulence and extravagance of Le Petit Chateau is revealed. Passing through reception we climb to our first floor twin room, which causes us to gasp as we enter. Looking like a bedroom that one would expect to find in a luxurious French manor, the décor and furnishings were nothing short of stunning. Known for their incredible attention to detail the Apartment Group have thought of everything to make guests’ stay both a unique and unforgettable, with each of the 29 bedrooms individually designed for to create that certain je ne sais quois.
After the incredible detail, the next thing to hit you about Le Petit Chateau is the hospitality. All the staff are friendly and attentive, creating a warm and enjoyable atmosphere which encourages people to instantly relax and have fun. During our visit we were incredibly well looked after by the General Manager Dale, while the wonderful Master of Ceremonies Tim took time out to give us a tour of the function side and the venue and head of housekeeping was proud to show off the rooms that she and her team lovingly look after. Beyond that, all the bar, waiter and events staff also go about their work in a happy and enthusiastic manner, which all in all says to me that couples marrying at the venue would be incredibly well looked after!
July 23rd, 2015 | Julia Braime
Today’s bride and groom are currently living outside of the UK due to spouse visa restrictions which have caused them and their families a lot of heartache. Their wedding was bittersweet as their friends realised that they had to leave the country because they were getting married, which made it all the more important that their celebration was extra special.
Hilary and Mike proved that your big day doesn’t have to cost the earth in order to have the time of your lives. Full of original styling touches, hand made elements and bursts of bright colour, Hilary & Mike’s perfectly personal quirky wedding day reflects their individuality beautifully.
Images by Eleanor Woodruff Photography.
hilary says: Our engagement story is absolutely hilarious and, according to our friends, no one could botch it quite like we did. We were on holiday in Cap Ferret, France in June 2013, and Mike had been secretly planning this for ages… he’d organised the barbecue, the beach, and even the sunset, but when it came to the critical moment he realised he’d forgotten to buy a ring or phrase the question! So looking rather ill (“food poisoning”), he steered the conversation towards “What the Bible says about marriage…”, much to my bewilderment. He finally managed to ask, “So… how ’bout it then?” To be fair, I didn’t get the answering part right either – I laughed and thought he was joking, then sobered up and said yes, then cried and said no, then walked down to the other end of the beach to think about it, and finally came back half an hour later with a definite yes.
We got married on Saturday 12th July 2014. We chose Left Bank Leeds for our venue, ultimately for the price and the DIY aspect of the space – which meant that we could rent the building for the day and move furniture around in between the ceremony and the reception, saving us paying for two venues and worrying about transport in between! We had an incredible team of friends resetting the hall for us while guests had drinks and photos taken outside. That Left Bank is a beautiful old church building which was another plus point for us as Christians.
We didn’t really have a theme, unless you count “a tight budget” as one! When planning the wedding we were a little daunted by the perfect, fairytale weddings we were seeing everywhere – we’re the least “bridal” couple we know, and as you might have guessed from our engagement story, far from perfect. In the end we just went with what reflected our personality best and made us feel most comfortable, which meant lots of origami flowers in recycled wine bottles, tea lights in jam jars we’d collected all year, and haphazard splashes of bright colour everywhere. This actually made it the perfect wedding for us because it represented our crazy and pragmatic sides so much better.
We used royal blue as a backdrop to hold all the splashes of brighter colour together, and also because everyone in the bridal party looked good in it – a bigger consideration than you might think in mixed race marriages!
My dress was from BHS and tailored to size by the lovely Sophie Davies Tailoring. Being 4’11” dress shopping is difficult at the best of times, and I’d got to the point where I was trying on First Communion dresses when I found this one, in the most unlikely of places! It was everything I wanted – a beautiful muted colour from the creamy lace material and champagne lining, not wider than I am tall and with straps to alleviate my fears of a wardrobe malfunction. Sophie did some magic and made the dress fit like a glove, also shortening it (by about a foot) from the waist to save the lace hem – something that a different tailor I had originally gone to wouldn’t do. She is incredibly talented and I couldn’t recommend her highly enough.
My shoes were from New Look and specifically chosen to narrow the foot and a half in height difference between me and Mike! It meant that I had some difficulty walking downhill but it was a small price to pay.
Mike is 6’4″ and has different problems altogether when buying clothes. He swears by Marks and Spencer‘s suits, and would do no different for his wedding day. He wore a slim extra-long suit in charcoal grey, a blue-and-white dogtooth bowtie with matching pocket square and, to my chagrin, a pair of Arsenal cufflinks.
We were fortunate to find dresses for the bridesmaids in a style quite similar to my dress in New Look! I definitely wanted dresses that they could wear again, and this fit the bill perfectly, also surprisingly in a shape and colour that suits them all. The dresses originally came with brown belts but the girls swapped these out for white ribbons. They wore their own shoes and I loved how this added to all the colour on the day.
Mike had two best men – his brother Andrew and his best friend Mike. Andrew has an amazing waistcoat and bowtie with multi-coloured frogs on a hot pink background which we absolutely wanted him to wear, and we brightened Mike’s wardrobe up with a colourful polka-dotted bowtie. Our ushers (unfortunately not photographed as they were moving furniture) wore royal blue ties with elephants. The blokes that did make the photos were my “Ugly Bridesmaids”, my housemates without whom a lot of the wedding would not be possible. They could wear whatever they wanted.
We didn’t hire any transport, we were each driven to the venue by our friends/family. Mike’s driver made a detour for petrol on the way to the venue!
Our wedding was photographed by the amazing Eleanor Woodruff Photography. Ellie had photographed another wedding at which Mike was best man, and we were drawn by the amount of personality she captured in those photos and how genuine she made the day look. Ellie took the time to meet up before the big day to find out more about us, scout out the venue, and go over a list of family photos. Being far more experienced with weddings than we were she also had many handy organisational tips for the day! The photos of our day are full of character and absolutely perfect, we cannot thank her enough for what a great job she’s done.
My bridal bouquet was made by my friend Liv, whose origami skills know no bounds. She’d layered so many papers, textures, and beads – it was more beautiful than I could have imagined.
We didn’t have any real flowers on the day because I was paranoid about hayfever and sneezing my way down the aisle (I opted to trip down it in my 6-inch heels instead). I had the idea to do origami flowers and folded some of them to begin with, but the vast majority of it was down to an amazing team of friends and family who folded away for several hours the day before the wedding. We also had plenty of balloons and colourful bunting for a fun touch, home-made confetti and fairy lights around the hall. The table settings were my favourite – each table had a white tablecloth, a royal blue runner, multi-coloured napkins, candles and a wine bottle-full of colourful origami flowers.
Mike’s Uncle Keith made the cake based on a picture that we’d shown him on Google. Everyone agreed that he needed a career change from train driving! The cake had three tiers covered in white icing, each made by a different family member and iced by Uncle Keith. He also stuck on individual pieces of edible confetti to form a cascading effect down the side and tied royal blue ribbons around each tier – if anything it looked better than the original that inspired us! The cake was topped by a champagne glass filled with more edible confetti, and engraved with our names and the date of our wedding.
Following our DIY-origami theme, we had DIY spring rolls for our first course, a great conversation starter for our guests who didn’t know each other! We also had bring-and-share salad and desserts, which turned out to be a great idea as there was an incredible variety of food to choose from. Our main was a hog roast provided by Boss Hog Yorkshire. There was SO MUCH food and everyone was well and truly stuffed.
Left Bank Leeds provided the drinks: beers and soft drinks from Samuel Smiths Brewery, a local company, and a selection of Fairtrade wines.
It made no sense to us to hire a band when several of our friends are musicians, so we organised an open mic for entertainment during the meal. Our friends absolutely did not disappoint and we had such a good evening, with everything from classical violin to 5-piece band. After the meal we pushed the tables aside for a ceilidh, with music from Ermine Street Band. Everyone loves a good ceilidh, and there was plenty of screaming, shouting and laughing.
Our vast height difference does not lend itself well to dancing, so we opted to do a “first duet” instead. We sang the song “Without You” by AJ Rafael, a song which I sang to Mike on Skype while we were long-distance, and made him cry. Mike was on guitar and I played piano.
For our honeymoon we went on a cooking holiday in the Loire Valley in France. This was a real treat for us as we’re nuts about French food. We were the only guests at the B&B as we went mid-week, and Lesley went out of her way to make things especially lovely for us! We enjoyed every moment of it and would totally recommend it to anyone else looking for a more hands-on holiday.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be that a spectacular wedding doesn’t have to cost the earth – we managed to source most of our decorations from eBay and Amazon, or supermarkets and discount shops like Home Bargains. High street stores also turned up some pretty surprising and budget-friendly clothing finds for the wedding party! Putting a bit of elbow grease and creativity into the preparations also helped cut costs, and we’re grateful for all the incredible friends we had around to lend us a DIY-hand. Finally, don’t worry too much about having to put on a spectacular show to impress the guests – they turned up to celebrate “us” in all our quirkiness and loved how much the wedding reflected our wacky personalities!
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