Avid Brides Up North reader Sarah’s wedding to her new husband Ross was a truly gorgeous affair. From her lace Victoria Jane dress (oh, how we love a gown with beautiful back detailing) to the stately setting and vintage transport, everything about the big day is stunning.
We also absolutely adore the theme for this fabulous North West wedding – love is the key.
So join us as we unlock and relive Sarah and Ross’ big day.
sarah says: We got engaged on 14th August 2013. This was the day before my birthday and Ross had surprised me with a night at Peckforton Castle in Tarporley. Whilst he was checking in, they told him there would be a tour of the hotel before dinner. I was more concerned about traipsing around in my heels but Ross managed to persuade me (as he had planned this it was a good job!) The guy showing us round took us all around the hotel, telling us the history which was great. In the grounds of the castle there is a chapel, as we walked in the whole place was filled with candles and looked beautiful. As I was looking around, Ross had gone down on one knee with a beautiful ring. I was so shocked and lost for words he had to ask me three times if it was a yes! We came out to a champagne reception and had the most amazing meal – it was perfect.
We chose to get married on 15th February 2015. It gave us 18 months to plan which we thought would be about right. We looked at having it on Valentine’s Day but we though guests might want to be on their own that day. Also it means that Ross has to buy me a present for Valentine’s and our anniversary now instead of having a combined one!
We got married at Adlington Hall & Gardens. We looked at a few venues, as we were having a civil ceremony, we knew we didn’t just want to get married in any old hotel room and none we saw were quite right. We made an appointment to view Adlington Hall and as soon as we walked into The Great Hall we were absolutely blown away by how stunning it was, it was the one! We loved the fact the whole place was ours for the day and we were truly treated like royalty. We also loved the fact we had two different venues in one. The ceremony in The Great Hall and wedding breakfast at the Hunting Lodge. From the very first meeting we had, the whole team were amazing professionals. This gave us confidence that the day would go smoothly. It was perfect!
We have two children Scarlett, aged eight, and Oscar, aged three, who were our flower girl and page boy at the wedding. Scarlett did a beautiful reading (A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton) at the ceremony which was very special and there were definitely a few tears shed by all. It was lovely to have them involved.
I came across the quote by Oliver Wendel Holmes – ‘love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness’ – and the whole ‘Love is the Key’ theme was born! I wanted something elegant and vintage that would reflect the history of the venue. Also very romantic with lots of candles, beautiful flowers and pearls.
We chose lilac and ivory as our colour scheme. Purple is my favourite colour and this fitted in nicely for the vintage elegance we were trying to achieve.
I knew I wanted a fitted, mermaid style lace dress but I wanted something at the back of the dress that made it different. As soon as I saw the Victoria Jane Ivy dress I knew that ticked all the boxes! I loved the pearl draping at the back and I thought it looked very elegant and vintage, which is exactly what I was looking for. I teamed this with a beautiful pearl headpiece which reflected the draping on the dress. I got this from a shop on Etsy called Gilded Shadows, it came over from the United States and was perfect. I also wore a crystal edged veil which was my ‘something borrowed’ as it was my wonderful sister Rebecca’s wedding veil she let me use. My diamante encrusted shoes came from Next and matched perfectly.
Ross wore a dark blue suit with grey waistcoat by Paul Costelloe. He teamed this with a grey and lilac tie which brought the whole outfit together. He looked very handsome!
My two sisters wore long lilac chiffon dresses with embellished necklines, which they teamed with a pale lilac feather cape from Coast. They also wore a pearl hair comb from Highland Angel which finished the whole outfit beautifully, they looked stunning!
The three (yes three!) best men and our fathers all wore two-piece navy blue suits from Austin Reed. They teamed this with a lilac tie. My son and three nephews as pageboys wore navy suits from BHS with lilac bow ties and lilac trainers – super cute! My daughter’s dress was by Pearce Fionda, I also got a vintage style diamante brooch to put on the waistband which mirrored my dress.
My father, my son and I arrived at the venue in a stunning 1930s Beauford. The rest of the bridal party arrived in a Daimler State Limousine.
Our photographer was James Tracey. I had looked at loads of photographers on the internet and James’ images really stood out. We knew we didn’t want the cheesy poses and wanted natural, documentary style images that really told the story of our day. James did not disappoint at all. We met for a pre-wedding shoot which was fantastic as it really helped us to relax in front of the camera when wedding day nerves set in and gave us confidence that the images would be great on the day. The images we have are stunning and have really captured the best moments of the day. James really talked us through every stage but was so unobtrusive on the day, it was perfect. We were both blown away and would highly recommend him. So many of our guests have commented on how amazing the images are too!
I wanted an informal bouquet in lilac and ivory with foliage. I had seen the amnesia rose and knew I wanted them included as they are a beautiful lilac colour and look so vintage. I also included lavender in all the flowers as I love the smell and the colours and style matched perfectly with the day. I also got some vintage style pearl brooches which were put onto mine and my bridesmaids’ bouquets and really finished them off. The flowers were provided by The Wild Bunch in Macclesfield. They were absolutely fantastic and exceeded my expectations in how they translated my vision for the styling of the day.
The Wild Bunch also provided flowers for the decor. I wanted lots of candles and cluster vases with various flowers that tied in with my bouquet. We had this set up for the ceremony table and also the top table. We used some vases which my sister-in-law had used at her wedding last year which was a special touch. It was stunning and took my breath away when I first walked in. The smell of lavender was amazing. The tables had fish bowl centre pieces with matching flowers. I had sourced lots of mercury glass tea light holders as well as some gorgeous antique lilac coloured ones which had pearl details on. There were lots of holders in various shapes and sizes on every table and around the cake. It created such a romantic feel to the day. There were also scatters of table pearls which completed the look.
We gave our guests bottle openers shaped like a vintage key as favours. They seemed to like the practical gift! For the evening we made some hangover kits. I found some small muslin bags on Etsy and had them personalised and sent over from The States. I filled them with mints, plasters and Alka Seltzer and put them over a bottle of water. A lifesaver for those who were celebrating a bit too hard!
My amazing friend Nova made my cake despite being nearly eight months pregnant! It was a three-tier sponge cake of chocolate, lemon and vanilla – delicious! It was lilac and ivory and had lace effect icing on the top two tiers. There were ivory and amnesia roses, foliage and pearl droplets in between the bottom two tiers. I also had an amazing cake topper custom made from Better off Wed on Etsy which said Love is the Key.
Ross and I are massive foodies so this was a really important part of the day. We had a delicious selection of canapés after the ceremony with champagne and mulled wine, which was perfect for a winter wedding. For our wedding breakfast we wanted food that we love and decided on smoked salmon to start, fillet mignon, which was absolutely amazing and perfectly cooked, for main followed by profiteroles with chocolate rum sauce for the gents and raspberry creme brûlée with shortbread biscuit for the ladies with coffee and petit fours to finish. We had a choice of wine and champagne too. For the evening we had bacon, sausage and fish finger sandwiches. Just what was needed! The crepes just about finished us off but I managed to squeeze in a chocolate and Baileys one!
The food was unbelievable, all our guests couldn’t compliment it enough. We also used vintage champagne saucers for the toast. These had been tirelessly scoured for by Ross’ parents and sister Fran and had been used at her wedding last year. It was a lovely finishing touch and was extra special as they were hers.
We used the amazing pianist Guy Porteous, to play from the ceremony right through to the end of the wedding breakfast. He is fantastically talented and was a lovely extra special touch to have him there. In the evening we chose to have a DJ to get the party started. He is the resident DJ at Adlington Hall and did a great job getting everyone dancing with a variety of songs that catered for the varied age range.
In terms of special touches, I had seen the large light up letters people hire for weddings and thought they made such a great focal point. I hired our LOVE sign from Dressed to Impress at Blakemere and it added a real wow factor, perfect for photo poses! We also had a wish tree as an alternative guest book. I found some tags on eBay which guests wrote their ‘key to a happy marriage’ message on and hung them on the tree. This was decorated with fairy lights, crystals and some vintage keys borrowed from Ross’ parents. I spent ages making escort card tags for the guest seating plan. I attached small keys to each tag and hung them from a mirror on ribbons. The guests then took their own key tag to keep. It was something different and the guests loved it. We hired a crepe station as a surprise for our guests in the evening. Original Crepes were fantastic, they provided a huge choice of sweet and savoury crepes and they tasted delicious. It was something the guests weren’t expecting and everyone loved it!
I had a sign made for our son Oscar to carry down the aisle, it said: ‘Daddy here comes Mummy’. He’d been practicing holding it and walking so steadily and was so proud of himself when he got to the end! We also had framed photographs of both sets of parents on their wedding days, as they have both been married for over 40 years this was a good inspiration!
We hired a videographer as we wanted to capture the day and have a great memento of the action. We used Creative Videos, Barry was fantastic and as he had filmed my sister’s wedding previously, we knew the video would be fantastic.
We would absolutely recommend Adlington Hall! From the moment we walked in we were overwhelmed by how stunning it was. The food amazing, the staff so professional and accommodating. Everything was more than we hoped for, my dream wedding venue!
I think my favourite part of the day was when the doors opened to The Great Hall and I was ready to walk down the aisle. On my dad’s arm, looking at all the most important people in our lives all there just for us was totally overwhelming.
We are going on a family honeymoon with our children in the summer. My next planning project now I have no wedding to plan!
My top tip to other Brides Up North is to utilise the talents of your friends and family. My sisters Rebecca and Jessica did my makeup and hair and my talented friend Nova made our fabulous cake. It was extra special for them to play such an important role. Oh yes, and plenty of waterproof mascara!
From getting engaged Brides up North was my go to for inspiration. I have been an avid reader of the real life weddings and I’m so excited to now be one of them!