December 1st, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth
The weekend is upon us and we’re super excited as December 1st signals the beginning of the festive season (to us anyway!) so this weekend we have seasonal soirees, mulled wine drinking and tree decorating on the agenda. But before we hurry off to find our fairy lights and baubles, we’re sharing this classic barn wedding that’s brimming with all the charm!
Josie and Romin tied the knot at The Ashes Barns earlier this year, the perfect backdrop for their relaxed rustic themed wedding, complete with exposed stone walls, beams and bunting galore. Their stunning photographs capture precious moments from their special day, from their bridesmaids donning some rather fetching wellies, to the couple meandering through pretty pastures with friendly cattle in tow.
What perhaps makes these images extra special though is that they were taken by the groom’s brother, professional photographer John of JPR Shah Photography. At first unsure whether to capture this special family day himself or totally immerse himself in the celebrations, John tells us that he decided he could do both…
john says: When my little brother announced his engagement to Josie, I was genuinely thrilled, but I was also a bit torn – I really wanted to attend and be present without a lens for his big day, but I also really, really wanted to capture his wedding memories for him, which in itself, is a privilege. When I suggested it to them, they both had similar concerns – they didn’t want me ‘working’ during their celebrations, but they also said I was the only person they’d want to photograph their day. That settled it for me, I was going to shoot their day and the photography would be a wedding present from me! I really needn’t have worried! The photographer holds a very unique position on the wedding day – I witnessed everything from the best seat in the house, and spent more time with them than any other guest, and capturing their love on camera was such a joyous thing for me. Without sounding cheesy, it was a genuine honour and an absolute pleasure to shoot their day for them. I laughed, cried, danced, and even gave a speech, and after the first dance, I was partying away with a prosecco in my hand!
So, in John’s case, he could have the wedding cake, and eat it! Bride Josie tells us more about the day…
With images by JPR Shah Photography.
josie says: We went to Manchester for a few days to see The Lion King. In the evening, we got ready and went out for an amazing Italian meal before going to the show. We went back to the bar at our hotel – Rom disappeared and then came back and we went to our penthouse suite (we were upgraded as Rom had told the staff what he was planning to do). We went up to our room and as I opened the door there were candles all over the table, champagne and my favourite music playing. At this point I had no idea what was about to happen – I turned around and Rom took my hands (he was shaking like a leaf!). He got on one knee and asked me to marry him! I was so shocked I think it took me about five minutes to respond! I said yes, of course. We then went out and celebrated in the Hilton with some cocktails.
We got married on the 4th May 2017 – we brought our wedding forward from the September.
We got married at The Ashes Barns, Staffordshire – we had our wedding in the West Barn and the reception in the East Barn. We chose this venue as we really wanted a barn wedding to give us that rustic, relaxed feeling to our day. The Ashes team were absolutely fabulous when we looked round and we felt confident that we’d be able to have everything we wanted for our day.
Our theme was just a country, rustic feel with lots of flowers – including bridesmaids in wellies!
We initially wanted a sage colour theme to match the tones around the barns, however, as we had so many flowers it became more multi-coloured!
May 8th, 2017 | Rachel Parry
We’re continuing to ease you into the week with this wonderfully relaxed real wedding in beautiful rural Staffordshire.
In keeping with their choice of rustic venue, Alexe and Declan planned a laidback and fun day for their guests with nods to their passions and interests carefully built in.
Fine attire was high up on both the bride and groom’s agenda, with Declan and his groomsmen sporting herringbone tweed suits from a London tailor, and Alexe having her beautiful vintage style dress made bespoke in Sheffield.
Now, over to Alexe for all the details…
With images by Deborah Stone Photography.
alexe says: We got engaged in Barcelona, on an Easter mini-break in April 2014. Declan had booked the holiday as a surprise, which he told me about on Valentine’s Day, but I had no idea of his intentions!
Our wedding date was 30th March 2016 – a Wednesday, and just after the Easter bank holiday, just to be awkward! I’m a teacher so it was in the first week of the school holidays and then we had our honeymoon during the second week. I originally dreamt of a summer wedding, but realistically, the price of the venue was more reasonable in March and we both decided that a spring wedding would be lovely, as we couldn’t rely on the good old British weather to be good in the summer so if we did have good weather in March it would be a bonus. In the end, we had a beautiful sunny start to the day, a wee bit of rain during the drinks reception and some snow in the late afternoon during the wedding breakfast.
We got married at The Ashes, a barn venue in Staffordshire, near Leek. We found it while we were Googling alternative wedding venues. It instantly appealed to us as it has the most beautiful grounds and a lake and also the team give you the freedom to decorate the venue as you wish and tailor the day to exactly how you want it. From the very first visit, we felt that the staff would do their best to make everything right for us. Something that really attracted me was that you could arrange the seats in the ceremony barn in an arc setting, so it was more cosy and intimate and everyone could hear what was going on. Another important thing was that you could provide your own drinks with no corkage charge, which meant that we gradually collected booze in order to spread the cost. The only downside was that we did end up with a house full of booze just before the wedding, but we couldn’t drink any of it! Luckily, the venue returned the booze that was not used on the day, so we benefited then!
We didn’t really have a wedding theme as such, but with The Ashes being a rural barn venue we wanted the day to be laidback and fun.
We didn’t consciously choose a colour scheme either, but with the Tour de France bunting (green, yellow and red polka dot) and my parents’ teapots, we ended up with springy greens and yellows as our colour palette.
April 7th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh
We’re committed to upping your daily dose of pretty here at Brides Up North (I know, I know, it’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it!) and this morning’s offering is no different.
Prepare thyself for Bethan and Jacob’s afternoon tea extravaganza of gorgeousness. After Jacob proposed at an ice cream farm (is there a more perfect engagement location out there? Methinks not) this super-sweet couple opted for a relaxed big day at The Ashes in Leek. There were wildflowers everywhere, jams and chutneys, floral prints, origami, sweetie jars and a surprise rendition of Summer Lovin’ from Grease.
In fact, today’s real wedding is so sweet that these photos from Corneli Fleur may well leave you on a sugar high. Enjoy…
bethan says: We got engaged at Snugbury’s Ice Cream Farm in Cheshire. Back when we were 17 and had been best friends for a number of years, we went on a friend-date to Snugburys, got some ice cream and walked through the fields nearby. It was here that we realised we had feelings for each other, so Jacob brought me back to the same spot to propose. We had a picnic underneath a tree he climbed that day and he put the ring box in a muffin tray. I turned around and he was on one knee holding out the tray with the ring box in it. He smiled and said “I was wondering if you’d like to be Mrs Taylor”. Our engagement wasn’t necessarily one of those super-glamorous stories you read about in bridal magazines; it was awkward and fumbly and neither of us really knew what to do afterwards (except run away from the rain that was fast approaching), but it was us and I wouldn’t change it.
We got married on 30th July. We fell in love with our venue as soon as we saw it, so had to find an available date. One of my bridesmaids was also getting married that summer, so that restricted us too. We could have gone slightly earlier in July but it was really important for us to be able to have children there.
The ceremony happened at our church in Crewe, West Street Christian Fellowship. We didn’t even really discuss that as it was kind of a given. As Christians, it was important to us to get married in church, and West Street is our home where our church family are based. It wouldn’t have felt right doing it anywhere else.
The reception venue was The Ashes in Leek. We knew we wanted a barn and completely fell in love with The Ashes as soon as we saw it. The venue itself is amazing and the grounds are beautiful. Jane was the staff member who showed us round and she was so nice and not at all funny about us being 21 at the time (some people had been!) She got to be with us on the day too, which was lovely.
We didn’t really have a theme, although my dress and Jacob’s suit had a kind of accidental 1920s vibe about them. We didn’t have a colour-scheme either – neither of us were really fans of the whole colour scheme ‘thing’ so we went with vintage-y shades (no reds or strong colours).
My dress was kind of 1920s in style, a mix of satin/silk and silk chiffon with some sparkly details. I didn’t give myself a massive dress budget – only £500 – so I didn’t go to any boutique shops for fear of falling in love with a dress way over budget. I went to a wedding dress outlet with my mum, sister and mother-in-law-to-be and was in a bit of a state when we arrived. I was so scared of not liking anything that I just couldn’t look. My mother-in-law asked me to pick out any dresses that had something I liked (sleeves, shape etc) and just try them on, even if it was just to rule out certain styles.
I picked my dress because I loved that the straps were made of gemstones. When I tried it on I honestly felt amazing – like a 1920s movie star, or a passenger on the Titanic. I knew I was a young bride and wanted something that was individual; something I hadn’t seen before. It had to be my ‘Titantic’ dress.
Jacob wore a suit from Next, with a shirt and bow tie from Topman. His brown shoes were from Next as well. We went together to choose his suit and he loved the vibrant blue of the one he chose, the contrasting lapels and the 1920s vibe.
Jacob had six official ushers who all wore matching suits from Burton; they were like navy versions of Jacob’s blue suit, and also had darker lapels. Our dads also wore the same suits. Jacob’s little brother (six at the time) wore a similar suit but a mini version, obviously!
October 14th, 2016 | Julia Braime
Keen to give their guests a day to remember, today’s bride and groom put great food and drink and fabulous entertainment high up on their list of priorities.
They styled their day with cute bunting, colourful blooms and a sprinkling (or two) of gold glitter, and enjoyed celebrating within their stunning rural venue, whilst also seizing the opportunity to make the most of its surroundings too!
We love bride Tracey’s stunning sleeved gown, topped off with a pretty paper flower crown.
With images by Paul Joseph Photography.
tracey says: Neil proposed to me at Castle Howard in York, at the end of December 2014. It’s one of my favourite places in the world! We visited York as part of our very first weekend away together in the infancy of our relationship – we stopped off at Castle Howard because of my obsession with the novel Brideshead Revisited. We had such a brilliant time there and it’s so incredibly beautiful – Neil later told me, once he’d proposed, that for a long time he knew he would propose to me there. He’s a good egg!
As I’m a teacher, we were slightly constrained when it came to picking a date for the wedding. I didn’t want to get married over the summer as I don’t like the heat at the best of times. We also wanted to get the wedding done and out of the way so we could go on a massive holiday of a lifetime over the summer (this was our attitude in the early days of our engagement: the wedding was an excuse for a big party and a means to going on a huge holiday adventure together). We thought Easter might make a nice time and started looking at venues with that two week window in mind. When we mentioned Easter to close family and friends, they started to swoon at the idea of spring and the flowers about – and so we ended up getting married on Wednesday 6th April.
Finding a venue proved to be really tough. We visited a couple in our area that were not really ‘us’. At that stage, we didn’t really know what we wanted, we were just going on gut instinct. Fortunately, Neil found The Ashes one night whilst he was reading about wedding awards online – the venue, which is located in Staffordshire, had won one award a few years on the trot and so we thought it might be worth visiting. We liked everything about The Ashes; its informality, its beauty, the organisation of it all. We booked it that day.
I tried to steer away from themes and just did things I thought might look nice. We ended up with pastel colours because of the season. There was also a lot of gold glitter. Ask my dad about gold glitter and he’ll tell you that he’s still finding it in the boot of his car almost six months on! We hoarded jam jars and interesting glass for months before the wedding and then used PVA glue and gold glitter to decorate them – it doesn’t sound that impressive but we were really pleased with how they turned out and people were able to take jars home at the end of the night. This spread the gold glitter love even more!
October 14th, 2015 | Julia Braime
The rustic wedding inspiration continues on the blog this afternoon with Laura and Sean’s well styled big day.
Choosing The Ashes country barn as setting for their celebrations, Laura came up with a sweet & sugary pastel colour palette to complement the chosen country vintage wedding theme. This worked a treat as all elements of the wedding came together perfectly, from the main party’s stunning attire to the elegant décor and beautiful blooms!
With images by Kate Scott Photography.
laura says: We got engaged during a three week trip to Thailand in December 2013. Sean managed to get the ring through customs, a 13 hour flight, and a tuk tuk ride around the city, without me seeing it in his bag! The evening we arrived, Sean dropped down onto one knee (after romantically kicking a table out of the way!) and proposed on our balcony overlooking the river while a band was playing Christmas songs below! It was perfect – and I cried!
We got married on 15th May 2015. We chose this date as we preferred the thought of a fresh spring wedding, and were also willing to wait 18 months for our perfect venue.
While we were still in Thailand we decided that we wanted a relaxed wedding in a rustic setting. The Ashes country barn, in Endon popped up several times in our search and looked stunning. We fell in love with it instantly and although we looked around a few other venues in the area, they didn’t come close to The Ashes.
The Catholic church we chose for the ceremony was St John the Baptist Church in Alton, in a stunning setting overlooking Alton Forest and Alton Castle.
Our chosen ‘theme’ was mostly rustic, vintage with pastel colours. This just seemed to suit our personalities and it all came together that way, rather than being a planned theme. From the start of the planning we were certain that we wanted a relaxed atmosphere, which also sits well with a rustic setting.
For the colour scheme I had imagined pale pinks but knew that Sean wouldn’t wear pink in his tie or suit! I also loved the idea of having four different coloured bridesmaid dresses so I ended up choosing a pastel palette of blue, green, yellow and pink.
After many trips to various dress shops with my patient mum and bridesmaids, I went for a mix of a classic but princess style dress. It was covered in fine lace and was fitted satin on top but with a massive skirt and train! I loved so many dresses that I had tried on, and almost bought three different styles before I found ‘the one’! The Wedding Dress Shop in Wimbledon was amazing and the team there tailored my dress to exactly what I wanted – I added straps, with a keyhole back, for the church, which I then removed for the rest of the day. I also added a lace up back rather than buttons, as well as a sparkly belt and headband for a bit of glamour! I almost didn’t wear a veil but on my last fitting I tried one on and it really finished the look and made me feel like a bride. On the day my hair was done by Caro Millington and Fiona Brunt did my makeup.
Sean wore a blue with fine white pin stripe traditional morning suit. The groomsmen all wore the same as him.
The bridesmaids’ dresses were from In One Clothing. They were multiway dresses so my gorgeous bridesmaids could choose how to wear them. We also went for four different colours. I kept this a surprise from all the guests and Sean (which was so tricky but worth it) so it was a real ‘wow’ on the day.
We chose classic vintage cars for our transport; a Beauford for myself and my dad on the way to the church, and Sean and I after the ceremony, and a seven-seater Imperial Laudette for the bridesmaids and my mum. These we hired from A Perfect Day Wedding Cars.
As we live in London we wanted to bring a touch of the city to our country wedding and organised a London Routemaster bus to take all our guests from the hotel to the church and then from the church to the venue. Although it struggled up the hills and down the windy roads it looked great outside the barn venue!
Kate Scott was our photographer. We found her through The Ashes website recommendations. We met her when we were booking her parents guesthouse for Sean’s family and got on instantly. Kate’s style of natural, romantic photography was exactly what we were looking for and we weren’t disappointed! She didn’t spend hours making us stand or pose for photos which is what we’d been warned of by friends, so it never felt like we were missing out on our wedding.
We also hired a videographer pair from Adorable Moments. We haven’t watched this back yet as we are waiting for our first anniversary, however the highlights are stunning, and are such a great way to remember the day.
Blossoms florist in Leek did our flowers for the day. I wasn’t sure what I wanted and showed Lucy the florist, a million pictures and somehow she and my mum (with her amazing knowledge of flowers) came up with exactly what we wanted and they fitted in with the rest of the wedding perfectly! I loved the bouquets for myself and the bridesmaids, filled with subtle ivory peonies, ivory freesia, pale pink sweet avalanche roses, pink lisianthus, tanacetum daisies, eucalyptus greenery handtied in a natural, country garden style. She also added a few sparkly brooches in mine to make it stand out.
Lucy filled birdcages we’d sourced with flowers matching the bouquets, for the table centrepieces and decorated the church with delicate pew ends and bay trees with trailing ivory ribbon bows, displayed outside the entrance of the church.
Further décor included painted reused crates to display the order of the day, and wine bottles to show the table plan and table names. We had rustic bunting inside and outside the barn, rustic jugs for the bouquets, and jars wrapped with lace.
We also had an alternative guestbook – we always forget to sign the guest book at weddings, or write the same old thing. So we had a wooden frame made and the bridesmaids took little wooden hearts around to each table for the guests to sign or write a little note on, which were then put into the frame for us to remember!
Instead of favours we made madlib cards for the wedding guests to fill out. We weren’t sure how these would go down and if people would forget about them, but they were a great hit and we laughed a lot reading the stories and ‘advice’ the next day!
My family has a massive sweet tooth, so a showstopper cake was must! Francesca at The Cheshire Cat Cake Company didn’t disappoint with a stunning cake; four tier high, draped with lace and flowers in the colours of the bridesmaid dresses.
For the wedding breakfast we started with fun canapés including Staffordshire oatcakes, finger sausages and sweet scones, which all disappeared pretty quickly. We then served prosecco and beer during the drinks reception – the option of having beer was a bit hit with the men!
For the main wedding breakfast we had a ‘host a roast’ where we chose a carver for each table by handing out funny aprons and chef hats. This was great fun and really included our guests in the day. We would definitely recommend this to anyone getting married.
To provide the entertainment we had a band called One Eye On The Wedding Cake, booked through Warble Entertainment. We loved them instantly and watched their videos on YouTube. They learnt our first dance song and kept the dance floor full all night! They played a mix of music which suited all our guests.
We would definitely recommend The Ashes to other couples following our wedding. Paula was our wedding coordinator and kept everything on track, however all the staff were amazing and were so quick to respond to my many questions by email!
My favourite part of the wedding was dancing all night! All the important stuff was done, all our hard work had paid off, and there was nothing left to do but dance with my friends and family…and my husband, of course! Sean’s favourite part was finishing his speech and enjoying a whiskey with his best man!
Following the wedding we spent two nights in a little cottage near to The Ashes (Middle Cottage). This was perfect and allowed us time to relax and enjoy reminiscing about the wedding before jetting off! Our honeymoon was a road trip up the west coast on America, starting in Las Vegas. We then hired a convertible Mustang to drive to Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Big Sur National Park, and San Francisco. We then finished our honeymoon off with a few nights in Miami.
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be to think about how to include your guests in the day – the madlib cards and funny aprons worked well for us! We tried not to get too worried about tradition and changed things where they suited us, for example we had a round top table as we wanted a fun atmosphere and for everyone to be talking together.
September 24th, 2015 | Julia Braime
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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