Having tied the knot legally in a small ceremony in Germany back in 2011, today’s wedding couple decided to throw a big celebration nearer to home to mark their commitments to each other, surrounded by their nearest and dearest.
Taking four years to organise (huge kudos guys!), Florelena and Alexander finally manged to get all their family and friends from across the globe together in Durham for one heck of a wedding day (we particularly love the sound of ‘the crazy hour’!)
Laid back, personal and fun, it’s clear to see that the journey was worth it to all!
With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, Darren Mack Photography.
florelena says: We got engaged in September 2010. I had been out and I got home quite late. When I entered the bedroom Alex was waiting for me and then I saw a Goofy doll – my favourite Disney character – and an open ring box between its legs. I looked at Alex and he asked: “will you marry me?” I felt so happy I just wanted to hug him forever!
We got married legally on the 11th January 2011 in Germany, where Alex’s family lives; we were there on holiday, we had the time and the papers, and we thought why not? We then decided that we’d celebrate our religious wedding in Durham in 2015. It took us four years to plan, because our family and friends are spread out all over the world. Thankfully we managed to bring everyone together and it was a total success. We loved it.
We got married at Crook Hall and Gardens, in Durham. We knew from the beginning we wanted a country-style wedding, so we wanted a natural setting, with lots of grass and flowers (fortunately we also had good weather on the day). This venue was incredible. It is a spectacular place and the staff is very professional. They did an incredible job!
Except for the country setting we did not have a special theme, all we wanted was for our guests, which came from many different countries and spoke a total of 11 different languages, to overcome their language barrier and to become familiar with one another. I think they all tried their best and the party was a total success!
Originally, on paper, our wedding colour scheme was meant to be orange, but then, somehow, we ended up having a multi-coloured wedding, with various coloured balloons and outfits. Shortly after we started planning the wedding we realised we just wanted to get married and be together forever, no matter the colours or the themes. So we went for what we both thought would make us happy on the day.
I chose a short, summery dress from Body Frock, which I purchased at Van Mildert in Durham town. I went to several wedding shops but had trouble finding a light, simple dress that would make me feel comfortable during the day. I absolutely loved the dress I chose, it was stunning-looking, shockingly affordable and, most importantly, very comfortable. Also, I could easily wear it again for another occasion – though I will not!
Alex decided to go for the unconventional (one of the reasons why I love him). He wore a blue jacket and a pair of beige chinos from House of Fraser. I personally loved his looks; his tie matched the flowers. I think he looks gorgeous whatever he wears. We both kept it simple and non-traditional.
My maid of honour, who was my sister, wore a gorgeous, flowery dress that she bought in Spain. Alex’s brother, the best man, wore a suit that he had bought in Germany.
Durham is a small city, so our guests and family were staying in various venues throughout town. On the day, we didn’t hire any special transport, just normal cabs. Our church and reception venue were both in Durham town, only a 20 minute walk from each other, so we all walked. It was awesome having strangers on the street stopping you to congratulate you and wanting to take pictures with you.
Our photographer was Darren Mack, and we recommend him 100%. He is so relaxed and always has a plan up his sleeve. He made us feel so incredibly comfortable, not just with ourselves, but also with the setting and the people around us. We love the fact that he uses natural light to create the gorgeous look in his pictures. Spectacular! Plus, Darren is such a lovely, genuine guy. We loved him from the moment we met him at one of the wedding fairs in Crook Hall.
I wanted peach avalanche roses for my bouquet, which I adored – I could not have wished for a better-looking bouquet. Joanne from City Blooms Florist in Durham, created it for me and I’d also recommend her 100%.
Our flower decorations were all arranged the day before the wedding by my mum and I. I bought the flowers at Sainsbury’s and the flower jugs at Ikea. I used brown string to decorate the jars. We loved the look and they went really well with the rest of the decoration. We also had some fabric bunting for the garden and about a dozen metal lanterns (from Ikea) lit with candles. This gave it all a very nice touch.
Since our wedding took place in beautiful Crook Hall and Gardens, we thought as our favours we would make little envelopes with sunflower seeds inside and a beautiful note to thank our guests for their company on our special day, and their support throughout the years.
Our main wedding cake was a three-tier, naked cake with lots of fresh berries and edible flowers. We also had small carrot, red velvet, salty caramel and lime and coconut cakes on the side – which saved our lives because by the end of the party there was no cake left! The cakes were made by Christine Clark, from The Anticipation. She makes delicious cakes and we totally, totally recommend her.
Our wedding breakfast was fabulous, picked by us and executed by The Spitting Pig’s awesome team! We had lovely canapés on arrival at the venue. For our sit-down meal we had anti-pasti sharing platters as starters, roast beef and roast chicken as main; our vegetarian option was a delicious North African tagine with roasted vegetable couscous. The sides were rosemary roasted potatoes, vine tomato salad, grilled corn on the cob and a green leaf salad. For dessert we had our wedding cakes.
Our only entertainment was what we call in Spanish “la hora loca” (the crazy hour). I created a playlist with lots of well-known Latin classics and we all had to wear crazy accessories (like party glasses or Hawaiian garlands) and to dance for one hour, non-stop, doing a variety of steps that are typical for those songs. It was so much fun – we had a blast!
We hired Chris Tindale, from Damascus Road Sound & Lighting, who supplied and set up the PA system for the evening. He was also our DJ for the night and he was great. He let us play the music we wanted and he kept the atmosphere going the whole evening. It was fantastic! We would also recommend him, no doubt.
To provide a little extra entertainment, Alex and I built our own photo booth. We made a large, wooden Polaroid frame where guests could take their pictures, and bought a Polaroid-style camera for guests to take pictures with and stick in our guestbook, as well as to take with them as a wedding souvenir. We also built our own light-up A & L letters, illuminated with a white/blue solar powered light extension. We loved it!
Following our wedding we would definitely recommend Crook Hall and Garden to other brides and grooms – it’s more than just a stunning-looking place. Their team is fantastic, they are so helpful and they are very experienced, so even when you think you might not like an idea, they turn every suggestion into something absolutely magical. I could not recommend them enough. On certain days of the week you can also get the entire garden exclusively for your party, so be sure to check.
A special part of the wedding day for us was our first dance. We decided, yet again, to go for the unconventional, so we went for a Merengue song to do our first dance. We danced to a song called ‘Te quiero como yo’, by Juan Luis Guerra. We were a bit apprehensive, because we did not practise it at all, but on the day it went incredibly well. It felt and looked like we had rehearsed the whole dance, even though we hadn’t. We were both surprised and we really enjoyed it!
We are yet to go on honeymoon because of our work commitments but we are planning something big for next year! When we got legally married in Germany in 2011, we went on a very nice trip to Malta in the summer, where we stayed at the Hiltons Hotel in St. Julian. I can definitely recommend Malta as a destination for a lovely honeymoon.
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be – do not stress! Easier said than done, I know, but it’s true! Even if you think something has not gone the way you wanted, only you will notice it, and it’s not worth spoiling your whole wedding day for something that is insignificant. I realised long before the wedding day that I would marry Alex a million times even if I had no dress, no shoes, no venue, and no flowers. All I wanted was to enjoy the moment with our friends and family and to offer them a fun day that would say thank you for their support throughout the years. Try your best, whatever you do, do it with love and care, but when the day comes, do not stress about what you did not do, or about what you could have done. Just enjoy and celebrate. It is your special day, but it’s also your partner’s too, so make sure you two have the best time ever!
When it comes to advice on budgets, my husband would say: “Your priorities should be the venue, the catering and the cakes, a professional photographer, affordable but good-looking flower bouquets and a decent sound system for the dance. Everything else can add a lot of costs, especially the clothes, but it does not contribute a whole lot to the quality of the day. If your budget is tight, remember what the priorities are.”