Today’s real wedding couple chose two historic venues brimming with character and charm for their big day celebrations, which took place in the North West of the country.
Following a ceremony in the church where the groom’s parents had married 34 years previous, the happy couple and their guests moved onto The Old Grammar School in Middleton, for the reception to get underway.
We love the simplicity & elegance of this wedding which also features pops of colour and personality to make it stand out from the crowd.
With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, James Tracey Photography.
nadine said: We got engaged on my 30th birthday in November 2014. The engagement was a modern joint decision. Having known each other since our university years and lived together as a couple for five years we had spoken about marriage a number of times. As we were both approaching the 30-year-old milestone we decided it was the right time. Rob proposed in front of the Sagrada Familia, in Barcelona. We celebrated in the nearest bar with a jug of Sangria!
Neither of us wanted a long engagement. Spring would have been too soon, summer too popular, so we settled for autumn and set the date for 24th October 2015.
We wanted a venue that would be exclusive to us and our party. We also knew we wanted a venue that resembled a barn and that would require very minimal decoration. We looked at a number of options and finally settled for a church wedding at St. John the Divine in Brooklands, Sale, where Rob’s parents had married 34 years before. The reception was held at The Old Grammar School in Middleton, which is a historic venue with all the character and charm that I was after. I fell in love with the place when I first saw it online and it was even more impressive when we first visited!
There was no specific theme to the wedding though we did want the day to reflect both our personalities as much as possible. We started with Penguin invitations which reflected our love of books. We made decisions on what to have as we went along, so long as it fitted the budget. Overall we wanted everything to be as simple as possible, low-key, relaxed and informal.
I didn’t think very hard about the colour scheme. The Old Grammar School is full historic charm, so we decided that neutral colours and candle light would best complement the building’s incredible features. The chairs were covered in hessian and lace. On the tables, we had candles in jars wrapped in hessian and we had huge candelabras on the windowsills. The good thing about choosing neutral colours for the table decorations meant that I wasn’t restricted to a particular colour that I had to reflect in all my other decisions. So later on when I was choosing the bridesmaid dresses, the ties, my shoes and the flowers, I could still have any colour.
I spent a lot of time looking at and trying on dresses. Initially, I wanted a tea-length dress as I wanted to wear red shoes. Unfortunately, tea-length dresses are very hard to find, and those that I did try on made me look frumpy. In the end, I decided to go for a long dress but it had to be a simple dress with some detail on the back. I didn’t want a long train or a veil so I splashed out on a gorgeous pair of red Vivienne Westwood shoes. I bought the dress from Bridal Italia in Bolton and they did a lovely job of customising it to my taste.
Rob wore a dark grey suit, white shirt and black shoes which he had had made in Vietnam the previous year. He also wore a burgundy tie.
My bridesmaids chose the colour of their dresses themselves. We looked at a few different ones together and eventually went for the ‘Ethel’ 50s-inspired dress in coral from Lindy Bop.
The brief to Ben, the best man, was to wear a suit which he felt comfortable in. Alistair, the other groomsman, decided to wear a kilt which he already owned. We provided Ben with a tie and Alistair with a bow tie, both of which were coral and complemented the bridesmaids dresses.
My dad, the bridesmaids and I travelled to the church in a Royal Windsor car which we hired from High Style Wedding Cars in Dukinfield. After the ceremony, Rob and I jumped into the car to travel to the venue.
We had the brilliant James Tracey as our photographer and we would both heartily recommend him to any couple. We sifted through a lot of photographers online and narrowed it down to a handful. James made the cut! He was the first and only person we met up with actually. He was relaxed, friendly and professional and importantly, the package he offered was simple and straightforward. He explained how he works on the day and showed us some of his previous work. We were sold and didn’t bother meeting with the other ones. We liked his non-intrusive documentary style photography and we have some really great photos from the day. We also had a pre-wedding photo shoot, which I feared would be an awkward and cheesy session, but James knew what he was doing and soon put us at ease and I really enjoyed it! We knew we had chosen the right person.
When it came to flowers, I knew I wanted paper flowers I wanted something different and I didn’t want the stress of arranging for fresh flowers to arrive on the day, hoping that they would arrive on time and be to my taste. I wanted colourful flowers and I struggled to find somebody who would do what I had in mind so I had a go at making the paper flowers myself. I had no idea where I was going with it but carried on. I ended up making my bouquet, the bridesmaids’ bouquets and all the buttonholes. I have since decided to start my own paper flower business, called Paper Meadow.
The Old Grammar School was decorated by Leanne and Katie at Extravagant Events Venue Dressing in Sale. We only met up with them twice. We both felt they understood exactly what we were after and we had every confidence that they would do an excellent job, which they did!
I wanted a cake that was non-traditional. We went for a skimmed naked cake with three different flavours: vanilla sponge, chocolate orange and lemon drizzle. The cake was provided by Candy’s Cupcakes and was delicious! We found a supplier called Genefy Playground, who did some pretty amazing superhero cake toppers for us.
For our wedding breakfast, we decided to go for the buffet option offered by the venue. We had a whole roast lamb and a selection of vegetables. For the evening buffet, the leftover lamb was served in buns and we also opted for fish and chips, which went down a treat!
When we decided to have a church wedding, I knew that I didn’t want traditional hymns sung throughout. Instead I wanted an element of fun and so had a gospel choir to perform. They performed My Love Is Your Love by Whitney Houston, All You Need Is Love by The Beatles, and Oh Happy Day at the end. Also, our Scottish groomsman, suitably dressed in a kilt, sang Candy by Paolo Nutini, Halo by Beyoncé and Riptide by Vance Joy during the signing of the register and finished off with a few seconds of What’s Up by Four Non Blondes, substituting the lyrics “What’s going on” with “It’s your wedding day”.
For our evening entertainment we agreed the band had to be the Live Lounge Duo who we first heard in a local pub a few years back. Rob really like them and said that if we were to ever get married, he would have them play at our wedding. For the background music during the day and the post-band evening music, Rob compiled the playlists himself on his laptop and played these through the PA system.
Also during the reception, one of my bridesmaids took Polaroid photographs of all the guests for the guest book with a vintage Polaroid camera.
Following our wedding I would absolutely recommend our venue to other people. I liked the fact that there were no hidden costs, and David and Alex were readily available to discuss our requirements for the day. David especially was very patient as we spent a lot of time chopping and changing the table plan and menu. On the day, the staff were very accommodating and did their best to ensure that the day ran smoothly. The drinks prices were very reasonable, particularly when compared to other venues.
The Old Grammar School is perfect for an intimate venue as everything happens in one room. None of your guests get stranded in other rooms and it’s perfect for mingling. For the evening party, there was no disruption at all. We didn’t even notice it when they moved a couple of the tables to make room for the band to set up.
My favourite parts of the day were the in-betweens: after the church but before the meal, and after the meal but before the evening party. Usually, people say that these are the awkward bits because they have nothing to do but it allowed me to have a proper chat to the guests, greet them properly and catch up. We had 54 adults and four children at the wedding. This was a good number because it didn’t feel crowded and I had the chance to speak to everybody properly.
For our honeymoon we went to Vietnam and Cambodia for two-and-half-weeks. We started off in Saigon for a couple of days, before flying to Phnom Penh for another couple of days and then to Siem Reap to visit the beautiful temples of Angkor. The temples were amazing but after three full days of visiting temples, we were ready for our beach break on the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc where we had even more cocktails and copious amounts of spring rolls.
My top tip to other Brides Up North is – be organized. It’s never too early to start working on the table plan or drafting the order of service. Whether you’ve planned small intimate wedding or a big blow out, make sure you speak to both your day and evening guests individually. It is so much more personal and will mean a lot to them. Finally, don’t be scared of breaking with tradition.