The days might officially be getting shorter, but look on the bright side Brides Up North, that just means lots of beautiful summer celebrations to recap on these pretty pages.
This morning we’re starting the week off in beautiful Northumberland, and paying a visit to the Alnwick Treehouse and Alnwick Garden (where Brides Up North is very proud to be hosting our gorgeous Luxury & Vintage Wedding Exhibition on Sunday 5th October 2014, are you coming?).
Frankie and Chris’s colourful, natural, boho inspired wedding is bright and beautiful with authentic personal styling. Let the love grow indeed…
With images by Wildhearts and Wishes Photography, with second shooter Jacqui Grigg.
Frankie says: We got engaged on 3 February 2013. The short and romantic version is that, one Sunday night, we went for a walk and Chris proposed along the banks of Thames in the old Naval College in Greenwich, underneath a 19th century lamp post. The longer, more accurate and less romantic story is that Chris proposed one Sunday night whilst wearing sweat pants in the house in the middle of an argument… a quick change into some nicer clothes and a short walk to our favourite location and we made it official against a more romantic setting!
We got married on Saturday 21st June 2014 at St Paul’s RC Catholic Church, Alnwick. The drinks reception and wedding breakfast was then in Alnwick Treehouse, before moving across to Alnwick Gardens for the evening do.
In terms of deciding location we knew we wanted somewhere meaningful to us so we started looking in three locations. 1) Greenwich in London where we have been living for 2 ½ years and where we got engaged, 2). Newcastle where we started living together for the first time, 3). Northumberland where we had both grown up and met.
We only looked round a few venues in London to know that something was missing, and that something was the North East. When we looked round venues in Newcastle and Northumberland we knew straight away that that was where we should say our vows.
Having limited our choices to the North East, we were then still indecisive so greedily ended up choosing three venues instead of one! Having both been brought up Roman Catholic, we were always going to get married in a RC Church. We chose St Paul’s not only because of its location and its beautiful atheistic, but because we really gelled with the priest. He was so supportive and down to earth; he sealed the deal for us!
We specifically chose Alnwick Gardens and Treehouse, as not only were they wonderfully characterful and beautiful venues in their own right, but because they also afforded us with the freedom and scope to reflect some of ourselves in the day. Additionally, personalities played a part in helping us make our final venue choices, as the venue managers who showed us round both venues Arthur (at the Gardens) and David and Wendy (at the Treehouse) were both so friendly, accommodating and quirky that we knew they would understand the feel we were trying to create for the day.
We tried to ensure it was a feminist wedding – my Mum and Dad walked me down the aisle, but neither of them ‘gave me away’; my sister did a speech so that it was not an all male line up; and we changed some of the wording in the wedding ceremony to make it more ‘inclusive’.
Our themes/styles were quite broad; we wanted them to reflect our personalities and shared loves. In terms of style, we wanted to create a relaxed, free spirited (hence the no ties!) and environmentally conscious vibe (hence the tree planting, seed packet favour and recycled white-gold wedding ring).
Theme wise, it was primarily (a) music, to reflect our shared love of music; and (b) floral country garden to reflect our love of rural Northumberland and my love of big floral prints. So as long as it was bright, colourful and fun, it was in!
My dress was ‘Harper’ Rue De Seine. I fell in love with it because it fitted the feel of both venues as well as my personal tastes; it combined both the bohemian, ethereal feel of the Treehouse with its flowing, loose fitting shape, whilst also encompassing the elegance and beauty of the Gardens through the beautifully detailed 1920’s style embellishments on the capped sleeves and midriff.
Both my mum and the lovely ladies in Luella’s Boudoir in Wimbledon Village must take a lot of credit for helping me choose my dress and I will be forever grateful to them for doing so. My shoes I bought online from Etsy. They were embellished in an art deco design that matched the style of the dress.
The groom and groomsmen all wore grey, slim fit, limited edition suits from Marks and Spencer with white shirts. Both Chris and I met whilst working in Marker and Spencer 8 years ago so it seemed fitting that they should be part of day in some way, as without M&S our romance never would have happened! In keeping with Chris’ laid-back style and personality, the collars were all open necked.
The bridesmaids wore green and blue floral mix and match 1950’s swing style dresses. The dresses were bespoke; designed and made by a local seamstress in my hometown, Morpeth (The Sewing Box). The material was Liberty of London, Lawn Denise Eva that I found in a fabric shop in London ClothHouse.
We hired a 28 seater 1940’s gray and white former RAF bus from a local bus enthusiast in Northumberland. The owner of the bus does not run a business; he just does it for pleasure so we were really lucky to find him.
Our photographer was Paula Smart from Wildhearts and Wishes Photography.
We would absolutely recommend Paula. Her photos are beautifully natural, understated and artistic. We loved her laid-back, genuine style both in her photos and as a personality. She was so thorough, accommodating and on the day, fitted in entirely with us so that photos were built around the day rather than dictated the day.
Our florist was Christine from Lavenders Blue in Morpeth. I have been going to Christine’s shop since I was 3 years old (she even taught my mum floristry) so it was nice to have that personal and local link in the day.
My bouquet was a loose posy of wildflowers, including: blue delphiniums, pink freesia, gypsophlia, blue thistle, pink stock, clematis vine, ivory freesia and green bells, tied with ivory satin ribbon. In my hair I had a garland of flowers made with the vine of green bells with pink stock, pink freesia bud, blue delphinium and gypsophlia.
The bridesmaids had simple bouquets of gysophila to offset the patterns on their dresses.
Christine arranged our flowers for the church and for both venues. In the church we had 2 pedestals containing blue delphinium, hydrangea, lilac stock, green trailing amaranthus, viburnum opulus, thistle and astrantia. On the end of the pews, we had 16 jam jars – which we had hand decorated with craft and manuscript paper and flowers. These jam jars were then used on the tables at the treehouse.
In the Gardens we used an eclectic selection of containers (vases, tea cups, jugs etc) that belonged to ourselves or members of our families, including family heirlooms such as a jug that was a wedding present to my granny. These included the same selection of flowers as the jam jars. We also had vintage style buckets and watering cans filled with pink and blue hydrangeas dotted around all the venue which we provided ourselves.
Decorations wise, we had a mix of multicoloured pom poms, floral print lanterns and distressed white wooden lanterns with nightlights.
In the treehouse, our wedding favours were also our table settings. We had mini-jam jars filled with raspberry and plum jam that had been made by my Granny. Each jar had a hand stamped label attached to it with a guests name on one side and ‘Thank you from Frankie and Chris: Spread The Love’ on the other side’.
At the evening do we had seed packets for wedding favours. We planted a tree in the gardens, and had a washing line of string marking out the area, with seed packets on it. The speed packets were hand stamped with ‘Frankie and Chris: Grow the Love’.
We chose an ‘All You Need is Love’ Beatles themed cake as part of our music theme, as well as because we loved its vibrant, psychedelic feel. It was made by A Symphony in Sugar, a fantastic local couple based in Cramlington.
Chris is a musician so various combinations of his old band and a band that was born out of that provided the music on the day. And of course, Chris was playing too! The tunes were a combination acoustic soul in the first set and punk rock-fused crowd pleasers in the second set – it went down a treat! Dominic Murphy pulled it all together. He has fifteen years experience as a musician working all over the North East in original, covers and function bands. It was great to have our friends involved in the day like this – it produced a very personal connection.
The music theme started as early as in the church, so we walked in and out to two of our favourite songs: ‘Sweet Disposition’ by the Temper Trap on the way in and ‘You Make my Dreams Come True’ by Hall & Oats on the way out. This really made the service come to life and be very personal to us. Plus it really got the party started early when we walked out to Hall & Oats with the congregation waving wedding wands with bells on!
In the Treehouse, we had a little room called the Roost, which we renamed ‘the sound track to our story.’ In this room we had all the key songs that had formed part of our story growing up and then together as a couple. As this music was playing there was also a slide show of photos of both of us over the years chronicling our stories to the present day, which my mum had put together.
The handmade seating plan was also part of the music theme, with every table being named after one of out favourite songs. The table names were displayed on vinyl CDs that were hung from an old 1930’s suitcase that belonged to my Great Grandpa.
We used etsy quite a bit, particularly for thank you presents for the wedding party and wedding stationary. If you have an idea, however quirky, etsy will have it. There are some amazingly individual suppliers.
Wendy from Just Perfect in Cramlington was particularly helpful. She stocks a range of products from lots of local suppliers as well as hires accessories.
To tempt people out into the garden to begin with we planted a tree. As die hard romantics (and a historian) we loved the concept that however fleeting the day was; there would always be a part of our wedding in Alnwick Garden and that future generations of our family can visit our tree long after we are gone. We also felt that we were so lucky to be celebrating such a wonderful day with our friends and family that by planting a tree we were in some way putting something back into the environment.
My favourite moment was after the ceremony, Chris and I went to the beach for a few photographs. The beach was quite secluded and despite being a public place and us being quite conspicuously dressed it felt like it was just the two of us. It was a lovely personal time, in what was a brilliant but busy day, with a beautiful setting.
Also, I would have to say Chris’s fabulous speech was a highlight. As was seeing him coming alive by being reunited with his old band mates and seeing how much he enjoyed performing with them and how much people enjoyed his performance.
For our honeymoon we went to Montenegro. We wanted something that offered a bit of everything (history, culture, café culture, beaches and outdoor activities) and had been meaning to go Eastern Europe for a while. Montenegro offers so much variety within a fairly small area. Two days in Kotor with its café culture and beautiful, 15th century preserved surroundings, two days in Petrovac on the coast for some beach time and a week in rural and unspoiled Virpazar on an adventure holiday through Undiscovered Montenegro – hiking, kayaking, wine tasting and bike rides.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be don’t be afraid to deviate from what is considered tradition and the standard wedding format. Make sure the day reflects you; don’t conform to something that doesn’t mean anything to you on the one day that is solely about you both. You get out what you put in!