Though we’ve manged to avoid the snow fairly well so far during the winter, the north has certainly been battered by a fair few storms, perhaps most notably Storm Desmond, which struck in December.
I remember seeing the heroic lengths wedding suppliers in the North West were going to in order to get to their brides and feeling for those couples that had been well and truly gate-crashed by Desmond.
Today’s bride and groom were one such couple who braved the storm, determined not to let strong winds or flooding stand between them and their big day – for which we applaud them.
With the help of their suppliers and guests, James and Alice still had, in their words, a “perfect day” as they pulled off a ‘Plan B’ wedding, which included a wedding banquet of fish and chips from the local chippy and an impromptu wedding band, proving there really ain’t no river wide enough!
With images by John Hesford.
alice says: We got engaged in June 2015, at Kangaroo Point in Brisbane. We were over there with my sister and a friend, visiting some friends. About ten days in, James drove me to Mount Coot-tha for dinner, then to Kangaroo Point where, out on the rocks down by the river, he dropped down on one knee and pulled out a ring, which he’d brought over from England, and had kept in his coat pocket the whole time for safekeeping.
We got married on December 5th 2015. We thought that six months was about right to plan a wedding.
We got married at Rydal Hall in the Lake District. James’ family are based in Rydal and he had lived there for a few years. We wanted to get married somewhere which was significant for us and where we could have all of our guests to stay for the weekend. Rydal Hall and the church on site are beautiful – so we thought that if it did rain or snow then the indoor venues were beautiful enough, even if we couldn’t enjoy the outside! On the day this did end up coming in particularly useful as we got married in the middle of Storm Desmond!
We chose a berry colour scheme because it’s my favourite, and tried to stay clear of a Christmas theme!
I bought my dress off the rail in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, which isn’t far from where I was living. It was from the second (and final) shop I visited with my mum and sisters. They all cried, both of the times I tried it on. As with pretty much everything, I wanted a dress that was simple, but not boring. I liked the simplicity of the style but also the stunning detail of the design.
I had naively assumed I could walk the 50 metre stretch between the cottage and the church on the day of the wedding, but then (thankfully) my friend kindly ferried my bridesmaids and I down the road in the storm in his Merc.
John Hesford was our photographer. He was absolutely brilliant: he made us feel so at ease and captured the feel of the day perfectly with candid shots. We’ve loved looking back through them – they’re all so natural and genuine, which is just what we wanted. Not to mention the fact he was stranded on the other side of the floods, and he waited determinedly for us to find a solution to get him to the wedding (a 4×4 with a snorkel!)
For my flowers, I carried a bouquet of ranunculus, roses and freesias. Kirsty McIntyre, who does beautiful flowers for events, and is also a good friend, did them for me – she was absolutely brilliant. It turned out I was quite fussy, but she seemed to enjoy the challenge! I thought the flowers we had were perfect.
I really love ranunculus and roses so Kirsty used quite a lot in the decorations for the reception, along with sprigs of blush-coloured hypericum berries and spray roses in bottles. We used lots of candles and my mum was a pro at making lots of berry-coloured table runners to tie the decor in with the theme colour.
I handmade our invitations and order of services, and wrote a little Madlibs for how James and Alice met for the guests to write over dinner. We also had a typewriter for our guestbook.
A friend of ours – who is a baker/treat-maker extraordinaire – made three varieties of truffles for all of our guests (including salted caramel and Oreo truffles!) which we gave as favours.
For our wedding cake, we had a chocolate Guinness cake (well, 11 of them), made by James’ mum.
We chose to have canapes and a roast dinner for the wedding breakfast, but our caterers couldn’t make it through the floods. So instead the guest with the biggest car was dispatched with a groomsman to go and pick up 108 portions of fish and chips from the Walnut Bar Ambleside – who totally saved the day!
A band from Stockton was meant to join us later in the day too – but again, they couldn’t get through the water, so some of our guests pulled together an absolutely brilliant set! They were incredibly talented and had everyone dancing.
It was lovely to have so many of our closest friends involved in the day – the flowers, the decorations, the truffles, the cake, the band that didn’t make it as well as the one that pulled the set together in the course of the afternoon, the vicar, the speaker, the performers during the signing of the register – all of it was done by our best friends, which made it so special.
Rydal Hall is perfect for quite a small wedding so we would recommend it for couples with more modest guest lists. The building and the grounds are stunning!
Looking back the speeches would have to be one of my favourite parts of the day – they were incredible. James and his twin – his best man – were hilarious, and my dad made a coffee in an aeropress for us – including grinding the beans, and frothing the milk (something he would do for me most mornings!) so we all laughed and cried pretty hard.
The moment I thought “oh flip I’m going to cry because I’m so happy” was in the party in the evening. Our impromptu wedding band were so, so good and all around me were our favourite people – who had just pulled off ‘Wedding Plan B’ for us – and I felt very overwhelmed at how perfect it all was (despite very little of what we’d planned for actually happening).
For our honeymoon we escaped to St Lucia! The beautiful sunshine of the Caribbean was well-appreciated after spending the weekend in such awful weather. We had ten days in the sun, in our own little villa in the north of the island. It was ideal.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would simply be to invite your favourite people and you’ll have the best time. It’s easy to get caught up in all the details of wedding planning – but I think that if you get the right people in the room, who you really care about, and who absolutely love you, none of the details really matter. Our venue, entertainment and catering plans were thwarted by a nationally acclaimed storm – and we couldn’t have had a better day.