Today’s couple Hannah and Claire, got engaged in the stunning surroundings of The Lake District and so decided to bring a bit of the great outdoors to their big day.
Deciding on a subtle rustic theme, the ladies used natural blooms and woodland décor to style their pretty wedding at the National Trust’s Quarry Bank Mill.
Along the way the two brides also added in a few of their favourite things, including serving up ice cream from a cute van named Hyacinth for dessert – what a delicious idea. Make mine a salted caramel cone please!
With images by Photography by Kathryn.
hannah says: We got engaged in July 2014. Claire took me on a very romantic weekend to the Lake District as we love hiking. She booked a very fancy hotel, which I thought was unusual as we often camp! We went for a good walk up to Grizedale Tarn and when we reached it Claire set out the most amazing afternoon tea – complete with a china cake stand which she had carefully carried up the hill! She had even made scones and a Victoria sponge cake herself – her first experience of baking! She knew I would appreciate it all. Once she had laid everything out she brought out a custom designed ring and proposed. It was a perfect engagement!
We got married on Saturday 30th May 2015. We knew that we wanted to get married in summer and late May/early June is our favourite time of year. Thankfully the venue had one Saturday left so we snapped it up!
We had our ceremony at Sale Town Hall which we chose because it was local to us and is a beautiful building. The reception was at Quarry Bank Mill – an eighteenth-century cotton mill now a National Trust property in South Manchester, set in beautiful gardens. We always knew that we wanted a venue with lots of outdoor space so we could get outdoor photographs, and QBM is somewhere we have visited together many times. We also liked the history of the mill and preferred its industrial, working class origins over the upper class country houses that are often chosen for weddings.
We were drawn to rustic and natural themes as they reflect our interests – nature and the outdoors. In addition, we included elements of things that we really like, such as ice cream and buttons.
We didn’t specifically choose a wedding colour scheme but we both love the colour purple so it featured in the invitations and the venue decor.
I have never wanted an ostentatious wedding dress and knew that I was looking for a simple style that I would feel comfortable with. I chose a knee-length cream dress from Monsoon with lace and a high, curved neckline that complemented my figure.
Claire also wore a dress from Monsoon – we went shopping together, tried on a dress each, and as soon as we stood in front of a mirror together we knew we were wearing the perfect dresses! They complemented each other perfectly – Claire’s was also knee-length, but a whiter shade, and had some beaded embellishments around the neckline. Hers was from the bridal collection but mine was not even advertised as a wedding dress.
As our transport, we hired an amazing vintage car from Broadoak of Manchester which carried us to the registry office and then on to the reception. It was a Beauford 1930s convertible with a burgundy hood – such a handsome car! The car journey was one of the most exciting parts of the day as everyone turned and smiled when they saw the car passing by.
Our photographer was Kathryn Widdowson of Photography by Kathryn, who I would definitely recommend. She was full of energy all day and willingly hiked through the gardens of Quarry Bank Mill so we could have photographs outside the glass house and on the bridge. It was also her birthday but she still happily spent the day with us! She met us six weeks before the wedding for a practise shoot which was very beneficial as we all got to know each other before the wedding and she understood exactly what we wanted.
We both carried a bouquet of flowers made by Fletcher and Foley. We specifically wanted very natural bouquets with the sorts of flowers you might find in an English meadow, and they provided exactly that.
We did a lot of decoration for the venue ourselves with help from friends and family: we had bunting in the function rooms borrowed from a friend who made miles of it for her wedding – something borrowed! For the table centres we hired wood from Rustic Wedding Settings and on it we placed the table name and three jars of flowers. We collected and decorated the jars with ribbons and lace ourselves with help from my mum and made the flower arrangements ourselves. We also included a sticker on some of the jars which we ordered from Wedding in a Teacup, which said ‘Let the Love Grow’ and had our names and the date of the wedding.
Our table names were all pairs of things we liked, such as Flowers and Fossils, Tea and Cake, Mountains and Meadows, and the names of our cats Dolly and Diamond. Around the edge of the room we placed large frames which were lined with hessian and had string placed across. On the string we pegged photographs – one board had photographs of us both when we were babies and children. There was also a display of photographs of me eating cake and a display of Claire eating ice cream as these are things we particularly love.
We ordered a larger planter from Wedding in a Teacup which was also personalised with our names and the date of the wedding and used this to collect cards and presents. Now the wedding is over we can use it in the garden and be reminded of our special day!
Additionally, we provided our own vintage china teacups and saucers for the tea and coffee served after the meal and we also made our own confetti out of dried lavender and flower petals and stuffed it into tiny gift bags.
We put a lot of thought into our favours and really enjoyed making them. For the adults, we bought little Kraft card boxes from Wedding in a Teacup and in them we put two artisan chocolates from a local chocolate shop. Attached to each box with purple string was the name of the guest on a small luggage label printed in purple text to match our wedding invitations. We also stamped each box with an ice cream stamp in purple ink which also matched our invitations. In addition, each guest was given an envelope full of forget-me-not seeds and on the front was a sticker with our names and the date of the wedding. There were a couple of children who attended the meal who were given a box of Lego each, and two babies who were given a baby book each.
For our cake, we chose a delicious, three-tiered chocolate design from Marks & Spencer decorated with strawberries. Fully recommended – everyone raved about it and it looked amazing.
We liked the hearty simplicity of the wedding menus at Quarry Bank Mill – for starters we had a blue cheese bread pudding, followed by a delicious roast lamb served with a potato rosti and lots of veg.
Dessert, however, was a special surprise kept from everyone. Rather than order one of the desserts from the menu, we hired a vintage ice cream van called Hyacinth and took everyone downstairs for ice cream Claire particularly loves ice cream so it was great to be able to express ourselves through our wedding choices. The flavours were delicious – salted caramel, strawberry and clotted cream, mango sorbet, champagne sorbet and old fashioned vanilla – and several guests went back for seconds.
Claire surprised me by booking a cello duo, The Cellists to play during the drinks on the lawn and the wedding breakfast. They played classical pieces contemporary songs and even film soundtracks and added a lovely touch of elegance to the afternoon.
To feed our evening guests we ordered a cake of cheese from Churchmouse Cheeses, which was delicious. It was delivered so carefully and came complete with decorations of figs, rosemary and fruit, and a couple of brie hearts.
A colleague of mine was our DJ which was handy. We arranged a very special first dance too. Claire and I are both keen line-dancers and we met at a line dancing club. We always knew that we wanted to have a line dancing first dance so I choreographed a routine to ‘our song’, which was Forever in Blue Jeans by Neil Diamond. It was quite a challenge to fit in choreography and rehearsals in the busy run up to the day, but I am so glad we went through with it! No one else knew about it and the guests loved it. Thankfully we didn’t make any mistakes either! Once we’d finished our first dance we launched straight into another line dance, this time it was River Deep, Mountain High. This is a popular line dance in our club so we asked a few of our friends to join in with the dance in stages, rather like a flash mob. Again, no one knew this was going to happen and I think everyone was rather impressed!
Claire and I decided not to have any speeches from other people – my father wasn’t in attendance and we didn’t have a best man or maid of honour to speak on our behalf. We decided to write a speech each. This seemed like a good idea six months before the wedding but it was very nerve-wracking to write a speech knowing that all our friends and family would be watching. We were definitely terrified at the thought of it, but they both went smoothly. Claire even wrote me a humorous rhyming poem about our relationship together so far which made everyone giggle.
We would absolutely recommend our venue to others. It is a beautiful venue with a very special history and the staff members were completely dedicated all day to our event so everything operated seamlessly without our noticing. It’s good to know that the money we’ve paid will go into preserving the mill for future generations. Plus we can go back and visit in future and relive the memories!
Claire’s favourite parts of the day were having ice cream from the awesome ice cream van, and getting a ride on the buggy from the car park to the gardens. My favourite part of the day was the ceremony – we walked down the aisle together holding hands which I felt was symbolic of our partnership together, and we chose Elton John’s Can You Feel the Love Tonight as our entrance song.
Following the wedding we had a minimoon to Barcelona which was just the relaxing break we needed after a busy few months. We ate tapas, drank sangria and soaked up the sunshine. In September we are planning a more lavish honeymoon to Italy so we can explore the Amalfi coast and eat ice cream!
Our top tip to other Brides Up North would be plan, plan, plan! We had a very detailed timeline and to-do list to keep us on track. Give yourself lots of time for each task, especially if you are making things yourself, as they often take longer than you think. Involving other people is fun for them and makes life easier for you too – we couldn’t have managed without our best friends and my mum helping us make decorations, and they loved being part of the team.