March 30th, 2018 | Laura McDonagh
The prosecco is chilling in the fridge, the cupboards are stacked high with hot cross buns and we can literally hear the bells of the Lindt bunny ringing aloud – Easter is here, and so it’s a weekend of socialising and indulgence for us. But just before we down tools for the Bank Holiday, we’re opening an obligatory bag of Mini Eggs and poring over this afternoon’s stunning real wedding.
Here at Brides Up North we’re a sucker for stunning church shots, and Helen and Will’s big day really pulls out all the stops – the stained-glass windows, columns and nave are soaked in history and grandeur, plus there’s the heart-warming story of the Canon who couldn’t have been more welcoming. Their reception followed at Whitley Hall, and wandering peacocks, live music and a gin fizz or two made for the perfect evening celebration.
Helen’s vision exudes elegance – all-white florals, a seriously classy duchess satin and lace gown – but there were also plenty of personal touches; from her grandmother’s wedding ring which she wore on the ankle strap of her shoe, to her love for Newcastle United (haway the lads!) being reflected in the black and white colour scheme.
With images by Stu Ganderton Photography.
helen says: We got engaged around midnight under the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Will had surprised me with the trip for Christmas, and we went at the end of March 2015. He had carried the ring with him all day, looking for a perfect opportunity. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen – the weather was terrible and he kept setting off security alarms due to the hidden ring! He had to send me on in front of him when we were going into galleries! That evening, he took me for champagne at the Moulin Rouge. It was a fabulous evening. As we walked back to our hotel, I felt a tug on my arm. When I turned around, he was down on one knee. I was completely overwhelmed, and I think I cried for days! When we got back to the hotel, they wouldn’t serve us champagne as they were just closing the bar – miserable lot! However, they did have a vending machine that dispensed champagne, so we were able to toast our engagement.
Our wedding was 5th August 2017. We wanted a summer wedding so that we could enjoy a honeymoon – I’m an assistant head at a secondary school, so I can only go away during holidays.
Our ceremony was at Sheffield Cathedral and our reception at Whitley Hall, Sheffield. The Cathedral was Will’s idea. A church ceremony was very important to me, but as Will has previously been married and divorced, some churches refused to marry us. After a rather rude vicar declined our request to be married at his church, Will took it upon himself to find a way. We attended the Sunday service at the Cathedral and met with Canon Chris. When we explained our situation, he couldn’t have been more welcoming or understanding. We became members of the congregation from May 2015, and we remain so today. The Cathedral community immediately welcomed us, especially Canon Keith, who married us. He spent hours getting to know us and he performed the most beautiful ceremony. To be married in the heart of the city was so special to us, as it was where we first met and bought our first home together.
We visited several reception venues before we went to Whitley Hall. None of them quite met our expectations, whereas Whitley exceeded them. We wanted somewhere elegant, classy and with character. The staff were so accommodating and helpful, and they were able to give us the date wanted. We were guaranteed access to the beautiful walled gardens and the main banqueting suite. We also felt that the rooms were reasonably priced for our guests.
My nana picked my wedding dress, but she sadly passed away four months before our wedding. She was a huge part of my life and she was a big miss on the day. She insisted on paying for the bells to ring at the Cathedral, so she was definitely part of our ceremony. I wore her wedding ring on the ankle strap of my left shoe, so that she was with me every step of the way.
Styling-wise, we wanted our wedding to be simple, striking and elegant. The tables had tall vases with white oriental lilies and greenery, tea lights and a few crystals. Our colour scheme was black and white. It’s a striking and clean-cut combination – and I’m also a Newcastle fan!
I chose a beautiful gown from Nora Eve in Chesterfield. It was the third shop we had been to and nothing had quite met what I had in mind. I wanted something very plain with regards to detail, but with a dramatic silhouette. When I came out of the changing room wearing it my mam, nana and sister (my maid of honour) were all in agreement that it was ‘the one’. I hadn’t wanted lace, but I loved the delicate bodice of the dress with the duchess satin skirt. My nana had the final word, and that was that! I also picked a full cathedral veil to suit the venue. My hair was styled by Amanda from Face2Face – she was very reasonable and accommodating.
Will had a bespoke three-piece suit made via Moss Bros. He wore a white shirt with a cutaway collar, white cravat and pocket square.
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