August 17th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Wow, where to start with today’s village hall wedding? It’s absolutely gorgeous, from the bride’s bargain wedding dress to the pretty afternoon tea reception, and all that’s in-between!
As they were footing the bill for the wedding themselves, Claire and Matt where careful to stick to their budget, looking for areas in which they could make savings but without cutting corners, whilst also calling in favours from family and friends along the way.
Their vintage vision came together perfectly and provides so much inspiration for couples wanting to follow in similar themed footsteps. So let’s take a closer look at the pretty…
With images by Andrew Keher Photography.
claire says: We got engaged on my 30th birthday in November 2013 while in Belfast. I was born in Northern Ireland and my family still live there so Matt wanted to take me home to get engaged. Matt managed to plan the whole thing and keep it a secret – I had no idea! Throughout the day we arrived Matt was secretly recording little videos and pictures and sent them to an email account he set up for me. He later told me he had the ring with him all day but couldn’t find the right moment to ask the big question. He decided to ask me on my birthday so when I woke up he showed me the email account and got me to read all the messages he’d sent through. When I got to the final one he was down on one knee and before I knew it had asked me to marry him. We were both in tears at this point – it was perfect! Plus he chose ‘the ring’ I’d seen – a vintage 1920s engagement ring that was in a local jewellers, Mr Allan’s. Every time we went past we would look at it but then one day I noticed it had been sold – I was sad until I realised he’d saved up and bought it for me!
We set the date for 6th June 2015. We’d been together for nine years on the 4th June 2015 so this was the closest date we could get to that.
We got married at our church, St Oswald and St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic Church in Ashton-in-Makerfield. We both went to the high school there and some of Matt’s relatives are buried in the church grounds so it has a special connection for us. It’s a beautiful church – the photos from Andy really show off the church at its best. We chose Dunham Massey Village Hall for our reception as we love the area and the nearby National Trust Park. We also loved that it gave us the freedom to do what we wanted with the space. The price was so reasonable it was perfect for us as we were paying for the whole wedding ourselves.
We went with a vintage theme but it wasn’t really a conscious thing – we just love everything vintage! We were really keen on having afternoon tea which lends itself to the vintage theme really well.
We didn’t really have a set colour scheme. The colour came from the flowers – when we met Clare from The Flower Farm we decided on seasonal flowers with pinks, purples and blues to add some colour to the venue.
I was set on a dress in a vintage style. I knew I wanted lace and tried on a few styles before I found ‘the one’! I tried Ali by Augusta Jones in a local bridal shop and knew instantly it was the one but it was way out of my budget – £2,000! I tried to find something similar on the high street but couldn’t get this dress out of my mind. In the end I found it for sale for £600 on eBay and arranged with the seller to go and try it on. I would recommend that anyone buying second hand does the same and be 100% sure you’re happy with it before you hand over any money.
To go with the dress, I wanted some shoes that were special so I knew I’d find something from Rachel Simpson. The Gardenia style in powder blue were just what I wanted and were so comfortable to wear – I kept them on all day. I kept my accessories really simple with a pair of drop pearl earrings from Marks & Spencer and my engagement ring.
Matt was keen to wear something a little different and special for the big day. After a ‘few’ shopping trips he eventually found his suit in Reiss – the Claymore. After that nothing compared so it had to be that one. He paired this with a slim fit shirt from TM Lewin, navy bow tie from Red Herring, navy braces from Next and tan brogues from Autograph at Marks & Spencer. Matt’s best man wore a navy suit and shirt from Next.
We booked a vintage double decker bus from Belle Vue Coaches in Stockport as our transport. I travelled with my bridesmaids and mum to the church in the bus and then we travelled down to the venue after the wedding. Alan the bus driver was a legend – he managed to navigate the small country roads to get us all there in one piece.
Andrew Keher was our photographer and I would 100% recommend him! Andy was amazing on the day and was fab throughout the whole process of booking and our engagement shoot. Andy does natural really well, we didn’t want to have lots of group shots but wanted to remember those little moments throughout the day. That’s what Andy does so well and after the wedding he posted little sneak peeks to Facebook which kept us going until we received our wooden box in the post. He puts so much thought into what he does and really cares about the whole experience for the couples he works with. Just amazing – money well spent!
On the wedding day I carried a bouquet of wild flowers from The Flower Farm. It was beautiful, smelled amazing and Clare put some peonies in there too, which are my favourite flowers!
To decorate, we bought three buckets of wild flowers from Clare. We had jam jars on the tables so this allowed us to create a rustic feel to the arrangements. Clare also made the bridesmaids bouquets, some flower hair clips and all of the buttonholes. We also bought 100 stems of gypsophila, which we suspended from the ceiling.
Our venue dresser Harri Bradburn came up with some lovely ideas for the venue which included a little area for our guests where they could take a picture using an Instax camera or write us a message using the typewriter. On the tables she put some advice cards for our guests to give us advice for a happy marriage. There were some interesting ones! Harri spent so much time on the little details that really made the difference on the day.
The room just looked stunning! We had lots of bunting, lace panels with fairy lights and lots of jam jars! Our friends were very generous and we borrowed some beautiful pieces to use in the venue. My friend Kath loaned us the tea trolley that the cake sat on and the stepladders that were adorned with flowers on the stage. At my hen do my friends gave me some little trinkets that we used to dress the venue on the day. My bridesmaids both had some keepsakes made for us so we used those as well. It was lovely to include those little personal touches.
For our wedding cake we wanted Victoria sponge (as we both love it) and we were really keen on having tiered naked cake. We met with Annalise from One Sweet Day who immediately understood what we wanted. It was even better that I expected and the bunting was a gorgeous finishing touch. It was delicious too!
We knew early on that we wanted afternoon tea for our wedding meal – we’ve become a bit obsessed! My friend Wendy (from work) and Anne were the perfect choice as this is their forte! They also provided all of the vintage china that our guests used. We met with them a few times to decide what we were going to have – the lemon drizzle cake is their speciality and went down a treat on the day! We also love pizza so early in the planning process we found a few companies that have pizza vans. We knew we had to have one so we contacted Honest Crust who were so lovely and provided us with the best pizza’s we’ve had. The salads were also delicious and went down well. We bought the wine from Majestic Wines and went with a Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinot Blush. Matt was in charge of beer and contacted Dunham Massey Brewery to order a keg of their Summer Meadow ale and cider for our guests. This went down really well especially with the men attending!
At the reception Matt and I decided to have a sweetheart table. We were so happy we did this as it gave us some time to ourselves to catch up after the wedding. Everyone says your wedding day goes so fast but I think this helped us to have a moment for just us.
In terms of entertainment, Matt’s mum arranged for the Haydock Male Voice Choir to sing at the church. We chose a few songs for them to sing: Embraceable You, Cwm Rhondda and a few others – everyone was in tears as it was so emotional and sounded amazing.
For the reception we had an outdoor seating area with some hay bales and outdoor games and we booked a DJ, Paul Leffler, on recommendation from one of our friends. We gave him a list of songs we love and he managed to fit them all in and get everyone up dancing. Our first dance was When I Fall in Love by Nat King Cole – we loved that it is a classic and suited us as a couple.
Others fab suppliers we used on the day included Nicola at Johnson Hairdressing Group in Wigan, who did mine and my bridesmaids’ hair and our makeup was done by the fantastic Mika Johnson. We hired our folding wooden chairs from The Chairman Company, who were very reasonably priced and provided easy delivery to the venue. Our wedding rings were from Mr Allan, the same jewellers that Matt bought my engagement ring from. Matt had his grandad’s ring re-sized and I had a white gold band specially made to fit the round shape of my ring. Our confetti was from Shropshire Petals – we went with the Vintage Daydream mix, which I think this summed up the day perfectly!
We would recommend our wedding venue to other couples that want control over what they do on their big day. The location is in the lovely village of Dunham Massey and has some outdoor space that can be used as well. Andrew, the caretaker is so helpful and lives next door so was on hand if we needed any help. I was amazed when we were looking at venues how much money couples are charged for various things (corkage, cake cutting etc.) so if you want to save some money this is a really good way to do it.
Meeting Matt at the top of the altar was my favourite moment of the day – it was all worth it at that point. I was close to tears all the way up the aisle but managed to keep it together. Matt said his favourite moment was when we were outside on the hay bales with all of our friends.
We haven’t been on our honeymoon yet but we’re planning on going to Italy at the end of September. We want to go to Florence, Rome and then spend some time on the Amalfi Coast. We’re really looking to it – with all the saving for the wedding we’ve not been away for years! We did manage to get a few nights away after the wedding to chill out. We stayed at The Drawing Room in Powys.
Everyone says this but my top tip to other Brides Up North is to do what makes you happy as a couple – it’s your day. It was a little easier for us to do this as we paid for the wedding so we didn’t feel obliged but I think there are ways to get what you want while keeping everyone else happy. And make sure you have some time to just you on the day.
andrew keher photography, Augusta Jones, belle vue coaches, debenhams, dunham massey brewery, haydock male voice choir, honest crust, majestic wines, marks and spencer, mika johnson, monsoon, mr allans, next, one sweet day, paul leffler, rachel simpson, real wedding, red herring, shropshire petals, the chairman company, the drawing room, the flower farm, tm lewin, uk wedding blog, village hall wedding, vintage wedding
July 27th, 2015 | Julia Braime
Today’s real wedding takes place at the gorgeous The Black Swan hotel, one of our beautiful Brides Up North Sponsor venues, and so when Andrea talks about it being an amazing venue, we know exactly what she means.
To fit in with their roots and the idyllic setting for their big day, Andrea and Steve chose to have a pretty garden themed wedding, complete with a simple white and green colour scheme.
We love the relaxed drinks reception in the hotel’s pretty gardens and the gorgeous shots of the newlyweds in the surrounding countryside, which ties the whole day together beautifully.
Oh, and if you want to see more of The Black Swan, watch out for a stunning styled shoot at the hotel, coming up on the wedding blog this afternoon.
With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, Georgina Brewster Photography.
andrea says: Steve popped the question on the evening of 29th November 2014. We had tickets to see Passenger at the O2 Academy that night and had gone for a pre-gig drink in a champagne bar in Leeds called Epernay on Great George Street. An unforgettable evening!
We got married on 23rd May 2015. After narrowing down our venues it was a case of what availability they had, we couldn’t believe our luck when the bank holiday weekend was still available so we plumped for that. As we were having the ceremony and reception under the one roof and it wasn’t our hometown, the bank holiday gave our guests a chance to make a weekend of it with us.
Our wedding venue was The Black Swan in Helmsley, North Yorkshire. It is just amazing! The staff, the area, the food, the accommodation and just the general feeling and atmosphere of the place. We can’t thank the staff enough, they were exceptional and looked after us all so well.
The theme just evolved. As Steve is from Lancashire and I’m from Yorkshire the roses seemed an obvious choice, although my white rose seemed to prevail over the red of Lancashire! Steve designed our logo that was printed on all the stationary and favours. The Black Swan has a great garden area to the rear and the wedding room is called the Garden Room so I suppose all in all it was a garden theme if any.
In keeping with the theme we had a simple colour scheme of white and green.
My dress was from Alison Jane Bridal in Mirfield, West Yorkshire. It was a Grecian style gown by Alexia Designs, with crystal detailing. Steve loves my back, so a backless dress was a design I chose.
We chose Georgina Brewster Photography, based in Skipton, North Yorkshire, to capture our day and we love our photos! We’ve had so many comments from our friends about them too. Georgina really captured every element so well, she is so personable and really went that extra mile by whisking us away at sunset to a location she had spotted on her drive over. We would highly recommend Georgina to any couple tying the knot. Amazing!
In terms of flowers on the day we had avalanche roses, freshias and vintage roses, which were all from Busy Liz’s Floral Design in Kirbymoorside.
Our favours were napkins with our guests’ names embroidered on the corner. We also gave raspberry and Chambord jam by Woody’s Preserves in Yorkshire.
Jo’s Cakes in Honley created our gorgeous three tiered iced cake of vanilla and chocolate sponge.
For entertainment we hired a pianist called Joseph Barton, to perform. The venue’s recommended musician wasn’t available that day and Joe was mentioned to us. We are so glad we chose him.
To add to the evening reception, we also hired some giant illuminated ‘love’ letters, which we placed in the garden. They were supplied by Fabulously Finished, near York.
We would most definitely recommend The Black Swan to other brides and grooms-to-be. They provide such great service and hospitality with a relaxed atmosphere. The food is exceptional too!
I can’t pin point one particular aspect of the day as my favourite as I loved all of it! It was so magical from start to finish.
For our honeymoon we travelled to Iceland, a place we were both keen to explore. We share a great love for the outdoors and when time allows we participate in triathlons to test ourselves. We had a wonderful time.
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be simply to relax and enjoy every minute. The day really does go by so fast.
alison jane bridal, brides up north featured supplier, brides up north sponsor, busy lizs floral design, fabulously finished, georgina brewster photography, helmsley wedding, hugo boss, jos cakes, joseph barton, north yorkshire wedding, real wedding, the black swan, the black swan helmsley, tm lewin, uk wedding blog, woodys preserves
July 16th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
In preparation for a wedding a lot of attention is focused on the bride and what she will wear for her moment in the limelight. But we shouldn’t forget that the groom is also a main focal point and they too will want to look and feel their best on the big day.
Over time we’ve seen menswear designers branch out on the formalwear front to give style-conscious grooms choices beyond traditional top hat and tails and standard Prince Edward suits. This not only gives grooms the opportunity to be more fashion forward, but also means they can pick attire that will complement the bride, theme and even the setting.
To tell us more about current groom looks, we’ve called upon our expert friends at British menswear retailer T.M.Lewin, whose latest collection of luxurious tailoring includes up to 30 different cuts of suits in wool/mohair mix cloths, plus an unrivalled choice of beautifully finished 100% cotton shirts and finishing touches in the form of smart ties and dapper pocket squares.
Here they share their top five occasion wear trends for the upcoming season, and they’ve even gone to the trouble of matching them up to some of Brides Up North’s very favourite wedding venues. Handy eh?
cool contemporary – alnwick garden
A cool setting calls for a cool suit. Blue is perhaps the new grey when it comes to an alternative groom look so those planning a wedding in modern setting, such as The Alnwick Garden in the North East, should consider the handsome hue. We can easily imagine a groom in the bright and airy Pavilion Room taking his vows while overlooking the incredible gardens in a relaxed two piece suit. And to complete the look a crisp white shirt, tan belt and shoes, and textured bow tie. Finally, for the ultra-cool groom, a polka dot pocket square as men appear to be dotty about all things spotty at the moment.
urban elegance – braime pressings
City weddings give grooms the opportunity to mix up their look with some modern additions. For a venue such as 125-year-old steel factory Braime Pressings, attire that mixes old with new is an excellent choice as it will pick up on the venue’s heritage as well as its modern day surroundings. We suggest a classic three-piece suit but in a slim-fit cut and edgy blue hue to strike the right balance. Through industrial, Braime Pressings, in the heart of Leeds, features impressive parquet flooring and a marble bar which call for a hint of elegance. This can be achieved in finishing touches of a fabric button hole and slim tie, complete with tie bar.
timeless traditional – allerton castle
Certain venues do lend themselves well to traditional groom attire including the likes of Allerton Castle in North Yorkshire. Its fairy tale interior and dramatic features give brides the opportunity to be a real princess for the day, but of course they need a prince to match, making a three-piece suit with waistcoat a top option. We find that light grey and tonal blue tailoring is an ideal choice for a formal wedding day and our 50s inspired pastel accessories will polish off the look perfectly, whether it’s a sharp mint green fitted shirt with textured cotton linen mix tie, or a colourful pocket square and stylish lapel pin.
country casual – hilltop country house
With an increase in country garden themed weddings it seems only right that designers have come up with fitting groomsmen attire. Whether indoors or out, a wedding at a countryside location, such as Hilltop Country House in Cheshire, gives grooms the opportunity to go for a more laid back look that complements with their surroundings. Our new casual blazers are ideal for those in favour of more informal attire. Woven in tweeds exclusive to T.M.Lewin, they’re still smart when paired with a pressed pair of cotton chinos and one of the season’s new plain, patterned or textured pocket squares. Those wanting a smarter look still can add a waistcoat and tie while those who prefer the simpler things in life can go for a blazer, chinos and open neck shirt.
modern classic – the mansion
Just as some old venues are brought up to date with a few cosmetic tweaks so too are classic suits. So for a groom saying his ‘I dos’ in grand stately home, such as The Mansion in Leeds, which boasts beautiful boutique style décor, we suggest a simple yet sophisticated two piece suit, with a one or two button blazer. The accessories can then be picked to suit the colour theme and/or bridesmaid dresses whether that means pairing with a pale pink or elegant blue shirt, tie and matching pocket square.
For more designs and information, visit www.tmlewin.co.uk
June 15th, 2015 | Rachel Parry
Today’s couple had their heart set on their chosen wedding venue from the moment they viewed its website – and looking at the images below we can see why.
Meols Hall provided a wonderful rustic setting for Ben and Jen’s romantic big day with its exposed brick walls and large wooden beams tying in perfectly with the couple’s moss-green colour scheme.
To complete the desired look they added natural flower displays and a gorgeous naked wedding cake – rustic romance at its best!
With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, James Tracey Photography.
jen says: We got engaged in May 2012. It was a while back but we’ve never been a couple to rush things: we got together in 2004! Ben arranged a long weekend break to Paris for my 28th birthday. It was not the most original choice, but Ben was going for the double-bluff!
We had a wonderful time seeing the sights, but it wasn’t until the last day when Ben proposed. We went to Sacre Coeur on top of Montmatre (the telescope scene from Amelie, with a sweeping view of Paris). Despite us having been partners for more than seven years, Ben was shaking with nerves, and it ended up being a very emotional moment for both of us. He gave me a platted string ring that turned out to be impossible to put on! Ben knew that I would appreciate a say in the choice of ring so he was waiting until we could go ring shopping together.
We set the date for 28th March 2015. I’m a primary school teacher, so it coincided with the start of the Easter Holidays. We had a hearts set on the venue, and it was one of the very few dates left for 2015 that worked well for me.
Our chosen wedding venue was Meols Hall in Churchtown, Southport. Not far from Wigan, where my family live. We fell in love with it as soon as we saw their website. It is a wonderfully tasteful barn conversion that is more rustic than ostentatious. After we’d seen it, my parents went to visit it, and we were thrilled to hear that it was as beautiful in real life as it was in the website’s pictures.
We had a relatively informal feel to the day. We didn’t want things to be straight-laced and serious. It really helped us – we were as relaxed as we could have been throughout the day.
Our order of service matched the style of our invites. They were both designed by a close friend of ours and featured a collage of fonts and black and white photos of Ben and I. As we both now live in London we also had a London Underground theme on the day. We wanted to bring a bit of the south up north! Our table names were stations in London that have meaning to both of us. The table plan was presented with an old London Underground map. We wrote funny(ish) short blurbs of why we had chosen the stations on the flip side of the table signs, to help break the ice on the tables.
We went with a moss green colour scheme, to complement the rustic venue, but to also go well with my hair.
I wore a beautiful Justin Alexander dress which I bought from Angelica Bridal in London. It was simple, elegant and covered in lace. I absolutely loved it! I added a moss green belt with a lace applique to fit in with the theme which I’m really glad about because I think it made the dress come alive.
On the wedding day Samantha Marshall did my makeup. It was fantastic and made me look glamourous yet natural! I would highly recommend her. Meanwhile, one of my oldest friends, and now professional hair stylist, Nicola Farrell, made my hair look wonderful! She plaited gypsum into the back which fit beautifully with the tasteful flower arrangements at the venue.
Ben didn’t want to hire a morning suit because he wanted something he could be proud of wearing over and over again. He found a tailored-fit three piece dark grey suit from T M Lewin that fit like a glove. He wore a luxury wide-collared plain white dress shirt from M&S and a well-matching moss green tie from Debenhams. The grooms and my dad wore the same suits as Ben.
My bridesmaids wore a moss green dress from Monsoon. They were a bargain and looked amazing!
We hired a London cab to take us to the venue on the wedding day. We didn’t have any money left in the budget to hire a posh car, plus it fitted in with the London theme perfectly!
James Tracey was our wedding photographer. His ethos mirrored our intentions for the day perfectly. The photos on his website were of a very high quality, but what set him apart was the imaginative, playful and natural feel that they had. We couldn’t recommend him highly enough. He was unobtrusive and a lot of fun to be with throughout the wedding day, and we now have a gallery-worthy selection of photos of our special day to cherish for the rest of our lives.
I had a beautiful and simple bouquet of callow lily, white rose and gypsum. It was provided by a florist that Meols Hall deal exclusively with, called Mary Ambrose who provided flowers for the whole day.
Flowers were all white and mirrored the bouquet: callow lily, rose and gypsum. We were given a wonderful degree of choice for all aspects of the flower decorations, and Mary gave us exactly what we asked for. She was fantastic.
We didn’t give favours out on the day and instead are donating a sum to the National Brain Appeal. This was in appreciation of the work they and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery did for a close friend of ours, who sadly passed away two years ago after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.
For our wedding cake, we chose a slightly asymmetric naked Victoria sponge. It was based on a photo we had seen on the internet and was baked by All About Cakes in Southport. They recreated it perfectly and it tasted delicious!
Carringtons Catering deal with Meols Hall exclusively, so we chose a hot buffet with them for our wedding meal. We also chose a vegan stew to cater for Ben and a few other vegetarians. Before the meal we had canapés, and being a Wiganer, we had to have pies and peas for the evening celebrations!
When it came to choosing entertainment, we listened to a lot of bands online before stumbling across Toni James. She sounded head and shoulders better than anything else we had heard, so chose her instantly. Although Toni provided us with the option of having a bigger band accompanying her, a pesky sound limiter at the venue meant that we couldn’t really have more than a four-piece. We were anxious about what sound they would be able to make, but they absolutely rocked! They normally play a lot of pop music, but Ben is a big fan of funk and soul. They had enough in their repertoire to make him very happy, and even learnt Erma Franklin’s Piece of My Heart for the evening.
In addition, a friend of mine, Zoe Baldwin, is an opera singer, and she very kindly agreed to sing three arias during the signing of the register. Our guests – and the registrars – all appeared spellbound! It made the ceremony very special indeed.
As extra entertainment, we had little fun activities after the ceremony. There was a Polaroid camera and some old-fashioned fair games, like hoopla and a sweet stall, all made possible by our wonderful friends who created and operated everything.
We would absolutely recommend our venue to other couples! It was a stunning back-drop, with the whole day based in the one location. There was enough space to make it suitable for all weather possibilities. Also, the staff at Meols Hall were friendly, relaxed and professional, and helped the day progress seamlessly.
It is hard to choose to favourite part of the day as we had a few; saying our vows which we wrote ourselves, listening to Zoe sing, and dancing the night away whilst eating a pie! Heaven!
For our honeymoon we went to Marrakech for five days. It was incredible. We stayed in a beautiful, scented and tranquil Riad just a few minutes’ walk of the main market. We took in the sights and sounds, bartered in the souks, ate like kings, pampered ourselves in one of the best spas the city had to offer and caught up on some much needed sleep! Although it flies by, no-one tells you how tiring your wedding day will be.
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be to relax and enjoy yourself. As our photographer said, you get to be a rock star for the day – make the most of it! Also, use your friends and their talents. It made it really special, personal and unique.
We are hugely grateful to everyone who helped make our wedding the magical day that it was. In particular, my parents who gave so much of themselves on the day and the months leading up to it.
June 11th, 2015 | Julia Braime
While we love to see the quirky wedding themes that certain couples pull out of the bag here at Brides Up North HQ, we also never tire a classic and romantic themed celebration like Emma and Mark’s big day.
After a decade together, Emma and Mark tied the knot during a traditional church ceremony followed by an elegant reception at Rockliffe Hall, complete with pretty styling in loved-up hues of pale pink and champagne.
Emma looked absolutely stunning in her lace Pronovias gown but was also keen for her maids to feel amazing on the big day too and so let them choose their dress style for the wedding. Certainly no sign of Bridezilla here then!
With images by Brides Up North featured supplier, Stan Seaton Photography.
emma says: Mark and I had been together for eight years when he proposed. We met at college at 16. Mark proposed to me in our flat in Gateshead on Christmas Day. I remember the morning vividly, in fact he hadn’t slept well all night! He woke very early on Christmas morning, showered and shaved and encouraged me to get dressed. I insisted on staying in my PJs like I always do on Christmas Day. Mark let me open my other presents under the Christmas tree. There was then a large box left at the back of the tree. As I unwrapped it I quickly saw there was a smaller box inside. At this point Mark went down on one knee and popped the question! My family were excitedly waiting to see the ring at Christmas dinner.
Our wedding was the 3rd August 2014. We were very keen to have a summer wedding and hoped for a warm sunny day which we were fortunate enough to get. With being a teacher it made sense having a summer wedding as we have lots of family and friends who are teachers who we wanted at the wedding. It also allowed a good amount of time off for our honeymoon.
We got married at St Philip and St James Church in Witton-le-Wear. I was born and raised in Witton village and the church was very meaningful to me and my family as it was where my younger brother and I were christened.
We then travelled to Rockliffe Hall for our reception. My mum encouraged me to visit Rockliffe Hall when we were first planning the wedding and as soon as we stepped inside we knew it had to be our venue. Rockliffe Hall is absolutely stunning and the staff are so accommodating.
We chose to get married in 2014 as that year we celebrated our tenth anniversary together. We chose a ‘Ten Years in Love’ theme where each table name was a year we had spent together with a picture of something special we had done during that year. We were both keen to keep the style of the wedding as traditional as possible and so went for a romantic feel with pink and cream roses.
We chose champagne as our wedding colour scheme as it fitted well with our romantic theme. My bridesmaids were at the front of my mind when picking the colours for the wedding as I wanted a colour that they would all feel comfortable wearing.
I knew from the beginning of planning the wedding that I wanted a lace wedding dress. Though I did make sure to try on other styles too. I was keen to wear a fitted lace dress and chose a beautiful Pronovias gown from Mia Sposa in Newcastle.
Mark was keen to buy himself and the other groomsmen a suit that fitted well. This wasn’t the easiest of tasks as we had to find a suit that would fit both my 16-year-old brother and our dads! We purchased the suits from T M Lewin. We hired the ivory waistcoats from Affleck and Moffat in Darlington and bought the champagne ties and pocket squares from Moss in Newcastle.
The bridesmaids were a great help in finding their dresses. I was keen for them to help shop for them as I wanted them to feel comfortable and happy on the day. We found their champagne BIBA dresses in House of Fraser. They looked beautiful.
For the big day we hired a Daimler and a Beauford from Classic Wedding Cars. My dad and I travelled in the Beauford and our bridesmaids and my mum travelled in the Daimler. Mark travelled with our best man in his car alongside my brother and his brother. Mark and I then travelled to Rockliffe in the Beauford.
Our photographers were Jane Miller and Stan Seaton from Stan Seaton Photography in Darlington. There was no question about choosing Stan and Jane as our photographers as my family had already worked with them before on a family photo shoot. We took a look at their wedding albums at a wedding fayre and were blown away by the quality of their work. They are both extremely professional but also very friendly and helpful.
On the day they felt more like our guests than photographers. Many of our guests commented on their work on the day of the wedding and also since seeing our wedding album. We would highly recommend them and can’t wait to work with them again in the future – perhaps when we have a family of our own!
I carried a beautiful bouquet made by Flowers by Nattrass in Darlington. I chose to have pink and avalanche roses in my bouquet as they are my favourite flowers. The flowers also worked extremely well with the colour scheme and complemented both my dress and the bridesmaids’ dresses.
Nattrass also supplied our flowers for the church and reception. Laura from Nattrass was extremely helpful when we were choosing our flowers as we were unsure how to decorate the room. Laura invited us down to the Rockliffe during a wedding fayre to see an idea set up on the table. It was a great help to visualise the room and we ended up going for that display. We had roses inside large martini glasses.
We had our wedding stationery designed by Kristen from Noble Fine Art. She was an excellent help and certainly very patient as we made our decision. We could not have asked for nicer wedding stationary. They complemented the tables in the orangery extremely well.
We wanted to keep the traditional part of the wedding of cutting the cake but neither of us were too worried about spending lots of money on a cake. As such, we bought a jam and sponge wedding cake from Marks & Spencer and decorated it ourselves with fresh roses from Nattrass and champagne ribbon.
Choosing the menu for the wedding breakfast was a huge highlight of our wedding planning (especially for Mark). We knew all the food at Rockliffe would be stunning and we found it extremely difficult to choose.
For our wedding day entertainment we chose to have David Ball play the piano during the drinks reception. Later in the evening he also performed a live set with his guitar and sang a range of songs from Buble to Kings of Leon. We also had a photo booth for guests to have fun with the props. This worked well as our guestbook too as they stuck their photos in alongside a message and then had a set of photos to take away with them as a wedding favour.
A very special touch to our wedding day was my younger brother Patrick playing me down the aisle. He played Trumpet Voluntary on his trumpet. A family friend of ours Ali Cochlan also sung a modern version of Ave Maria whilst we signed the register.
Later in the day my parents surprised us with another performance by Ali and Richi of May You Stay Forever Young by Bob Dylan as part of my dad’s speech. That was a real tear jerker for all the guests but a wonderful surprise too.
Rockliffe Hall is a stunning venue and we would certainly recommend it to others. We especially enjoyed having our wedding breakfast in the orangery as it was so light and airy. It felt so private to us and the guests. The staff are extremely helpful and on the day everything felt seamless. The grounds of Rockliffe are superb and made for great photo opportunities. Overall it was a perfect experience and we certainly didn’t want to leave the next day!
Our favourite part of the day has to be exchanging our vows in front of all our family and friends. We had both known from an early age that we wanted to marry each other and when the day finally came we couldn’t wait. We both also enjoyed the evening reception where we got to relax and party with our close friends and family, some of which had travelled some distance to be there so it was great to catch up with them!
We went to Santorini in Greece on our honeymoon. Mark actually booked it as a surprise and I had no clue where we were going until we reached the departure lounge! It was a great feeling having the surprise after a busy 22 months planning the wedding. The only difficulty I had was knowing what to pack! Lots of my friends asked me how I felt leaving the honeymoon plans to Mark but I knew I could trust his decisions. We spent a glorious two weeks away in the sun eating lots of beautiful Greek food.
Our top tip to other Brides Up North would be that although at times you can get carried away with the wedding plans (and sometimes get stressed) remember what the big day is really all about. The only important thing that matters on the day is that you are committing to spend the rest of your life with your best friend and the person you love. Don’t let the small things worry you!
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