We just love a bit of glamour here at Brides Up North HQ and today’s real wedding is delivering just that!
Deciding on a 1920s theme as a nod to her favourite book, the great gatsby, bride Catherine set about planning a wedding that would brim with elegance and glitz, while avoiding anything that would make her day look remotely fancy-dress like.
The result is an incredibly pretty big day, with just the right amount of Hollywood glamour. Highlights for us include the maids’ muted dresses, the fabulous blooms and also that classy sweetie table with gold-glitter-dipped liquorice, now that’s attention to detail!
With images by Jonathan Stockton Photography.
catherine says: We got engaged in Las Vegas in April 2014. On our first night we had been to see Boyz II Men and afterwards Scott took me to watch the Bellagio Fountain Show. He had been to Vegas a few times but it was my first visit and he was dying to show me the fountains because he had decided to propose there a while back. He popped the question while the fountains were in full swing. There were references to Vegas at the wedding; the table names were famous hotels there and Scott wore playing card cufflinks.
We chose the 8th August 2015, as our wedding date because we wanted to have as much of the day outside as possible, although you can never guarantee the English weather! I’m a teacher so I also wanted it in the middle of the summer holidays so I had time to relax and prepare before, and time for a honeymoon afterwards.
We married at Middleton Hall, Northumberland. We both decided we wanted a venue where we had exclusive use and where we could really have a full weekend celebration. We also wanted somewhere a bit different, where we hadn’t been to weddings before. As soon as we drove up the drive to Middleton Hall we were smitten; it had that grand look with lovely, green grounds, but once inside managed to feel warm and intimate. The venue offered the choice to marry both inside and outside which was important at first, and it had ten stunning guest rooms so we knew we could have our families and close friends with us from the Friday to the Sunday, which was perfect.
My favourite ever book is the The Great Gatsby and I absolutely loved the old-American style of the film; the long dresses, the head pieces, the glitz and glamour of the parties, so I knew that was the look I wanted for the wedding theme. When we saw that Middleton Hall had the Grand Hall, it seemed the perfect setting for this. I was really aware that I didn’t want it to be like a 1920s fancy dress though, more so an elegant, old Hollywood party with long dresses and bow ties!
When it came to the colour scheme, I knew that gold would feature a lot in the stationery and table settings, so I wanted flowers that would sit well with that. I opted for peach and greens, and my amazing florist recommended a flash of purple too.
I bought the first dress I tried on. I originally thought about having one made as I thought I had a definite idea of what I wanted. I made an appointment at AJ Bridal in Newburn, and felt so special and at ease from the moment I walked through the door. Julie and Alison sat me down and talked through my full vision for the wedding, including what sort of dress I might like. They picked one out for me and I loved it instantly. I then looked through all their other dresses and somehow managed to pick the same dress out again without realising, so I was definitely drawn to it. I tried on loads after that, but all I could think about was putting the first one on again, so I knew I’d found the dress. It ticked all my prerequisites; lace, a little bit of sparkle and a buttoned back.
After a bit of gentle persuasion Scott came to the realisation that a smart black suit and bow tie would fit in well with the theme! He wasn’t sure about a bow tie, but once he and his groomsmen had tried them on, and realised they would look good untied later on in the day, they were sold on the idea! I loved the simple elegance of the black suit and bow tie and the gold pocket square.
I decided to go for a neutral taupe shade for the bridesmaids to complement not only the flowers, but the gold elements of the decor. I wanted them to look sleek and elegant and loved the idea of their dresses having a little train too. They looked stunning in the dresses with a cut out back and jewelled neckline to complement the sparkle in my dress and fit in with the theme. They accessorised with sparkly pearl earrings and a simple silver bracelet.
Mine and my bridesmaids’ hair was done by Jackie from Jem Hair Designs, in North Shields. Jackie was an absolute breath of fresh air and we all had such a laugh getting ready. I would recommend her, and her team, without question. Makeup meanwhile was done by the lovely Kate, from K Beautique. When I met Kate for my trial she really listened to what I wanted for me and my bridesmaids and I was absolutely thrilled with the results, which truly lasted all day! I can’t wait to have another excuse to go to Kate again, she was fab!
Our photographer was Jonathan Stockton and he was amazing! He put us at ease from the first moment we met. He was so unobtrusive but managed to capture every part of the day in so much detail. All the guests loved him because he was so good humoured and made the whole experience so enjoyable. He had made a trip up to Middleton Hall in advance to suss out some good photo spots, and took us to places in the grounds that we didn’t even know existed. He even went beyond the call of duty when he saved Scott from a near-capsize in a rowing boat! Within a couple of days of the wedding we had photos we could look at on his blog, and the rest were ready by the time we arrived back from honeymoon!
My flowers were provided by Katie-Jane and Lesley from The Garden Studio. Not only did they provide the flowers but they dressed the whole venue too. I gave them a brief for the flowers, but after that was happy to leave it in their creative hands. Katie has won awards for her floristry at the Chelsea Flower Show; she is beyond talented, and everything she came up with just took my breath away. She had studied the Great Gatsby film, pausing every few minutes to examine the style of their party decorations and flower arrangements, and ordered in table centre-pieces especially. From the big overflowing urns as you entered the hall, to the magnificent fireplace display, which we married in front of, to our gorgeous bouquets. We could not have hoped for anything more!
Katie and Lesley also really helped with all of the special touches; from crystal candelabras, to big ‘C&S’ balloons, and from large light up ‘love’ letters to the sweet cart that they totally Gatsby’d up! I wanted a sweet cart with a twist, no Haribo or jelly sweets allowed to keep in with the 1920s theme! So we had everything black, gold and white including toffee bon bons, Ferrero Rocher, marshmallows, minstrels and many more. Lesley even went to the extreme of dipping sticks of liquorice into edible gold glitter, that is the amazing attention to detail they had!
Nothing was a problem! When I went into a panic that I couldn’t get the gold sequin table runners from anywhere that I wanted, I spoke to Lesley and within a couple of days she said not to worry as she was having them shipped over from America. They were unreal!
All the signs, place cards and table names were designed and made by me as I wanted there to be a consistent black and gold Gatsby theme throughout. My maid of honour, Gayle, bought me a fabulous art deco mirror which was perfect for the table plan!
For our favours we first asked our guests to indicate on their RSVP whether they preferred gin or vodka. We then made our own raspberry gin and our lovely friend, Al, bottled up his famous homemade limoncello for the vodka drinkers.
Our cake was made by the lovely Sandra’s House of Cakes. I wanted a mostly white cake with a tall gold tier, decorated in pearls with a few flowers in peach and gold. Sandra crafted these by hand and they looked great. We chose lemon sponge and it tasted delicious!
Our wedding was catered for by Wilkins Fine Dining, who are based in Rothbury. They catered our family meal on the Friday night, with delicious homemade lasagne and lamb tagine and all the trimmings. On our wedding day they provided lots of tasty canapes, followed by a three course wedding breakfast of North Shields fish cake, which represents where we live, slow cooked beef daube with potato dauphinoise and a bundle of vegetables, and finished with lemon posset and homemade biscotti. Everyone commented on how fantastic the food was!
The piece de resistance had to be the sizeable hog roast with all the trimmings they provided in the evening, along with a cheeseboard, pork pies and pickles. Nobody went home hungry!
We booked three different entertainers for our wedding. We really liked the idea of guests arriving at the front of the hall, receiving a glass of champagne and chatting to the backdrop of strings. So we booked Arco String Quartet who had a really wide repertoire and played beautifully as our guests arrived and throughout the ceremony.
Then we arranged for Mike Donoghue, a local magician, to do some close up magic tricks. He was great and entertained guests for those hours after the ceremony when the photos are happening and the canapes are being served.
We were so fortunate to marry on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year so we had our dream of a mostly outdoor day! We had set out lots of lawn games including croquet, jenga, boules and quoits so it was great to see everyone mixing together and getting competitive!
Our band for the evening reception were called Mr Funkster, and we had first heard them at a charity event about a week before we got engaged. One of the first and easiest decisions for the wedding was booking these guys, they had everyone on the dancefloor all night!
As a little extra at the wedding, when our guests arrived they were each handed an envelope with some personalised drinks vouchers to spend throughout the day. As such, our guests really appreciated the ‘hangover kits’ we handed out as they left, accompanied with a bottle of water.
After our big day we would absolutely recommend Middleton Hall to other wedding couples. Very few, if any of our guests, had ever heard of it as it is tucked away off the A1 just north of Alnwick, but they were all blown away by it. The grounds are so beautiful and give you scope for so many photo settings. The hall itself is the perfect place for a celebration and you can hire it for the day, or for one night up to three nights. It is big enough to avoid the groom the night before the wedding, but small enough to feel like you get to see everyone on your wedding day. We had 80 to our day and around 120 in total to the evening, but many people thought it seemed like less because it felt so intimate.
Ashley the wedding coordinator, and everyone at the hall were so helpful and accommodating, and loved doing things differently, if you had any suggestions. They greeted us when we arrived on the Friday and then left us to enjoy the night, before arriving early on Saturday to make sure everything was set up as it should be.
Prior to the wedding I absolutely loved having the Friday evening meal with all my close family and friends before Scott and I went our separate ways! Scott and the men went down to the snooker room and the ladies and I went up to the lounge on the opposite side of the building.
My favourite part of the actual wedding day had to be my dad’s speech; I really had no idea what it would be like or what he would say but it was perfect; concise, funny and loving in perfect measures. I know my mum will definitely have had a hand in this as there were no awful jokes in there! We also loved the evening of the wedding day with the live band; we never left the dance floor!
After originally planning to go to Croatia on our honeymoon, which had long been on our list of places to visit, we switched to Cyprus, travelling to the Thomson Sensatori Aphrodite Hills resort. It was fabulous! Being August, many of the places on our honeymoon list were out of season, so we decided on Europe because we wanted definite sun and relaxation and that is exactly what we received! The Sensatori hotels are stunning and we were greeted with a glass of champagne at the door followed by a bottle in the room which always goes down well!
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be to start early and do as much as you can yourself; I loved seeing everything I had designed and made actually being positioned and used as I had imagined; it’s so special when you have made it yourself.
Also, give your venue detailed instructions on what you want on the day. I had typed out a document which explained exactly how and where I wanted everything set up on the day of the wedding, what my plan B would be for it all if the weather wasn’t great, and I had even set certain displays up at home and taken photos so they would know how to replicate them! I got a bit worried the venue would think I was a crazy control freak but they loved it.