Charlotte Balbier

real wedding recap: ronald joyce for a romantic wedding at ashton memorial – melissa & craig

January 4th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

It’s holiday season here on the blog, and as the editorial team take a short break, we’ll be leaving you with a reduced blogging schedule so that you still get your daily dose of wedding lovely. Usual service will recommence on Monday 9th January 2017 but in the meantime watch out for recaps of some of our favourite Real Weddings from 2016. 

Drop in every day for the very prettiest, most unique wedding inspiration and – if you are a Brides Up North bride – to see if your real wedding was one of our top picks.

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We love that today’s real wedding has been influenced by two different styles – wild nature and glamour – that when brought together, complement each other perfectly!

Everything about Melissa and Craig’s big day is utterly gorgeous; from the choice of ceremony venue, styling and elegant colour scheme, to the bridal party’s stunning attire.

Though there is a lot of beauty to be admired, standout details for us include Melissa’s handmade headpiece, the blousy bouquets and both the bride and groom’s fancy footwear!

With images by Pixies in the Cellar.

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melissa says: We got engaged during the trip of a lifetime. I’d quit my job, Craig had taken a sabbatical and we travelled around the world together for five months, it was our dream and we decided it was now or never! We trekked the Inca Trail, travelled Australia by bus, walked the Great Wall of China and learnt to scuba dive in Thailand. At every great landmark we visited Craig made me pose with a sign with a single letter on and took a photo. He’s always full of kooky ideas and told me it was for a surprise collage when we got back. So I held aloft a ‘V’ at Machu Picchu, an ‘E’ at the Sydney Opera House, an ‘M’ in Halong Bay and so on!

On the final night of our trip we went all out and booked the Lebua hotel in Bangkok (The Hangover 2 film hotel!) As we got ready for a special meal Craig went out to ask what time the rooftop bar opened, then the bellboy rang the door with a big envelope. Inside were all the photos of me with the letters and a note – they were numbered and I had to re-arrange them, if I understood then I was to go and find him. I re-ordered them and it spelled out “Veux tu m’epouser?” – will you marry me in French! I had lived in Paris for several years and this was also so I wouldn’t have guessed throughout the trip if it were spelt in English! As a typical woman I rushed to finish half my hair and get on my shoes… then there was a knock at the door, Craig on one knee! Too nervous and impatient waiting for me, he proposed right there & I very happily said “Oui!” We had a wonderful night celebrating in the rooftop bar.

We set the wedding date for Saturday 23rd July 2016. We chose this date, as it would mark seven years since our first date.

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Being some of the last people in our friendship group to marry, we were determined to find a different venue, where none of our friends had been married before us. Although we had loved the idea of a destination wedding it just wasn’t practical family wise so we had to find somewhere that wowed us closer to home. As Craig is rather tall we wanted somewhere with grandeur but not really a church – when we visited Ashton Memorial it all fell into place. It immediately appealed to me – it was a beautiful domed building, all light and windows, surrounded by nature and spectacular views. We also loved the fact Lord Ashton had built it as a tribute to his wife.

We then had to find somewhere for our reception. After a lot of searching we found Forrest Hills, a relatively new multi-purpose venue, which had hosted some lovely weddings. Upon visiting we loved the wild natural beauty and secluded location. Also, the option of an open-side marquee next to the lake combined our dream of an open air wedding and the practicality for British weather, just in case.

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Our theme was ‘wild natural glamour’ – a bit of a running joke with our florist. We had two sides to our wedding – one side the cottage like reception venue, the cascading flowers intertwined with driftwood and our marquee with open sides to allow the real ‘outdoor’ feeling we wanted. On the other side we loved the glamorous elements – an ice sculpture, popping a giant gold bottle of champagne instead of cutting the cake, Craig in a tuxedo and a beautiful cream Rolls Royce as transport. We loved the mix of the two to fit our personalities.

We decided early on to have a duck egg blue colour scheme with accents of gold. It felt like it matched the theme of the day – wild natural surroundings and dramatic venues, with some glamour!

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As I own my own occasion wear brand, people kept asking if I was going to design my own wedding dress – but I couldn’t face the visualisation required and the extra stress! Luckily when I came across the Ronald Joyce Erin gown on Pinterest, it was beautifully styled on a bride and I had to try it. I always wanted a fitted fishtail gown with a beautiful back and this dress was just that, the crystal beads draped at the back and the low sheer lace detail ticked all my boxes. The experience at Emma Louise Bridal was friendly and personal, I didn’t feel pressured into anything and they gave honest opinions. My mum and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole dress shopping experience (all 20 or so shops!), it will always be a time I’ll treasure, just the two of us.

Accessories wise I knew I wanted a long dramatic veil – but with the detail on the dress it had to be quite simple. I chose a two-layer chapel length veil in soft ivory tulle, from The Wedding Veil Shop. I loved the way it fell over my shoulders and was sheer enough to see the back detail on the dress.

One of the main accessories for my look was the headpiece – I had lusted over some beautiful freshwater pearl styles but my budget didn’t quite stretch. Not one to be deterred I took two lengths of pearl and crystal flowers I sourced online and intertwined them to make the full dramatic headpiece I desired, able to wrap around the front and back. With my masses of hair I knew it wouldn’t overpower my look.

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