Real Weddings

fairy lights & lace. A bespoke dress for an enchanting winter wedding in york – emma & matthew

26th February 2016 | Rachel Hirst

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A Romantic Winter Wedding at Grays Court York (c) Andrew Keher (27)

We are totally in love with today’s bride’s stunning attire for her big day. Switching a traditional dress for a stylish top and skirt combo, we think Emma totally rocked the separates, which were made by her mum’s fair hands, no less!

And there are plenty more beautiful elements to this gorgeous winter wedding; from the bridesmaids’ mismatched lace dresses, to rustic homemade cake and the abundance of fairy lights. We love!

With images by Andrew Keher Photography.

A Romantic Winter Wedding at Grays Court York (c) Andrew Keher (39)

A Romantic Winter Wedding at Grays Court York (c) Andrew Keher (40)

emma says: We got engaged in August 2014 in Monmouth, South Wales. We had been away on holiday to Berlin for a week, which was a non-stop, activity packed week. We had talked about having a few days wind down when we came back before going back to work. This was something Matt was very keen for us to do, and now I know why!

We booked a beautiful little cabin in the heart of the woods in the Monmouth valley, complete with a wood burner, view of the woods and a microbrewery nearby. On the first evening there we were playing Guess Who in front of the fire (as you do), when Matt proposed. It was a huge, lovely surprise. We spent the rest of the weekend talking about what we should do for the wedding.

A Romantic Winter Wedding at Grays Court York (c) Andrew Keher (42)

We got married on 14th November 2015. Both of us wanted to get married in autumn/winter, and this was the date that fell together for the venue, caterers and the return of close family moving back from America.

Our ceremony venue was Grays Court, York. This is a lovely nine-bedroom hotel which is close to the Minster. We chose Grays Court because it was beautiful, full of character, and by far our favourite ceremony venue in York. It even has gorgeous gardens for photos, and, if the weather was right, you can get married outside! The staff were lovely, and really helpful. It also provided the luxury hotel we wanted to stay at for our wedding night.

For our wedding reception we chose The National Centre for Early Music, which is a church that has been converted into a venue. It had the gorgeous features of a church, but the freedom to create the wedding we wanted. The team there was great with flexibility and assisting us.

A Romantic Winter Wedding at Grays Court York (c) Andrew Keher (3)

When going through the motions of picking our décor and all the aspects which create the day, we did not have a theme in mind as such; we wanted to create a simple, tasteful atmosphere which leaned on lighting and our lovely venues. However when it came to picking our tables names – Lord of The Rings realms ­- and various other pieces, it did have a Lord of The Rings feel to it! Something we both enjoyed.

When picking colours for various pieces from dresses, ties to flowers, they were picked on a case by case basis of what we liked and thought would work together. For example, the groomsmen’s ties were maroon, which firstly was because Matt liked them and they worked with the suits, but the colour didn’t feature anywhere else. When putting the flowers together we tried to pull in any colours we had picked to tie it all together.

A Romantic Winter Wedding at Grays Court York (c) Andrew Keher (4)

I wore a skirt and top rather than a dress, which was made by my mum. We bought the fabric from a fantastic shop in Darwin called Platinum Bridal Fabrics. After months of searching shops (here and in America) and scouring the internet, the only dresses I was interested in were crazily expensive. I hadn’t found one which I fell in love with. My mum and I had started a Pintrest board of ideas, and my mum had found this gorgeous two-piece, and we decided we would use that as inspiration and make one! My mum is extremely talented with a needle and thread, and the whole process was really exciting, with various parts of the outfit being designed as we went along!

A Romantic Winter Wedding at Grays Court York (c) Andrew Keher (7)

Matt wore a grey herringbone three piece suit from Reiss. This was the second suit he tried on, with the first suit being bought and then used for one of the groomsmen! Matt also wore a short collard white shirt from Next, and black shoes and belt. He had a maroon wool tie from TM Lewin and I bought him a pocket watch as a wedding present, which really finished the look of.

The bridesmaids all wore different dresses from different shops, including Very, French Connection and ASOS. I wanted a mix of laces and styles in varying shades of white/cream. I picked dresses which fitted with the usual styles they would buy for themselves, I was really pleased with the final look.

The flower girls, our nieces, wore dresses made by Matt’s mum and headbands made from flowers. Their waist bands were made from the fabric of my dress, they looked so cute!

The groomsmen all wore their own suits, in varying shades of grey. This provided a nice mismatch that was coordinated through the same maroon wool ties. We wanted everyone to be comfortable in what they were wearing and loved the final mismatch look when everyone was together.

A Romantic Winter Wedding at Grays Court York (c) Andrew Keher (14)

As the wedding transport we hired a minibus for groups, and a Range Rover for me in the morning, and then for Matthew and I to get between the venues. This was from The Yorkshire Chauffeur Company. Howard was brilliant and he knew York like the back of his hand, we can’t recommend him enough!

A Romantic Winter Wedding at Grays Court York (c) Andrew Keher (19)

We chose Andrew Keher Photography to capture our day. Neither of us our big on having our photo taken, but from the initial shoot we did with him to the actual day, Andy made us feel really comfortable – he was brilliant. We have had numerous compliments on our photos and how impressed they were with Andy on the day. He has a really tasteful, modern style to his photos which drew us to him in the first place, and his photos did not disappoint.

A Romantic Winter Wedding at Grays Court York (c) Andrew Keher (23)

I carried a mixture of artificial and real flowers in my bouquet. The majority were false and brought from Country Baskets. They have a huge selection! The day before I added gypsophila around the edges which I bought online at Triangle Nursery. Using mainly false meant we had one less supplier to coordinate on the day, and meant I could take my time at making the bouquet how I wanted to. I really enjoyed making it!

Emma & Matt (193 of 607)

To decorate the reception venue we laid false ivy down the centre of the tables and placed different sized black lanterns with pillar candles. We also used these for other areas around the venue, such as the drinks table, present table and bar. Elsewhere we had wooden slices, which we got from Suzie Valentine, they looked lovely and added a great finished touch. We strung fairy lights, bought from Amazon, across the ceiling and anywhere that would take them! We wanted the main decoration to be lovely lighting to create a nice atmosphere on a dark November day.

A Romantic Winter Wedding at Grays Court York (c) Andrew Keher (26)

We used Blue Sky Event Solutions for our trestle tables, chairs and linen. We had initially booked with another company who I found out after our booking had gone into administration. We were recommended Blue Sky and disaster was averted! They were brilliant in getting everything sorted really quickly and provided the reliable, quality service we needed.

Our families helped us a lot in preparing the venue the day before the wedding by stringing up fairy lights and getting everything arranged, where possible. The venue had a gig the night before, so it was limited what we could do. The venue then put together the rest of the decoration in the morning from a list we made.

A Romantic Winter Wedding at Grays Court York (c) Andrew Keher (37)

All the stationery for the day, including the invitations, was designed by my brother. We picked an image which we really liked and I felt set the tone for the style of the wedding, and he then designed them. We got them printed at Marc The Printers, a great Manchester based eco-friendly printers. We bought the envelopes from a recycled paper supplier called Eco-craft. Paper flowers were added to a lot of stationary, which were from eBay.

Instead of a guest book, we did guest book Jenga! Where everyone signed /decorated Jenga pieces, this was great fun to look through after we got back from our honeymoon.

Emma & Matt (449 of 607)

As favours we gave everyone seed packets, which we’d created and assembled ourselves. We bought the envelopes, plastic inner bags, bags of seeds, a personalised stamp and printed labels.

Putting them together took a while but was definitely worth it as they were so personalised. We attached these to the name cards and menus with pegs that we attached paper flowers to from eBay.

For the children we did ‘entertainment bags’, which was a gift bag filled with various little toys and colouring books. We made sure they were age appropriate and stuff they could play with sat at their tables. They didn’t cost much, but went down a storm, the parents thought they were great!

A Romantic Winter Wedding at Grays Court York (c) Andrew Keher (35)

We had a sticky toffee pudding, naked-style wedding cake, with creamy toffee icing in between the layers. We made the cake together, two days before the wedding. On the morning of the wedding me and my brothers took it to the venue (it was only round the corner from where we were staying). We then decorated it using false flowers (to cover up any messy icing!).

We chose Fryton Catering Company as our caterers, and they were absolutely fantastic. From our initial meeting discussing our food options, they enabled us to have our perfect meal! On the day they provided a brilliant service – everyone commented on how lovely and helpful they were. We had canapés on arrival which were a great range and in abundance! Our wedding breakfast was baked camembert, or seasonal vegetable soup, followed by steak and ale pie, or vegetable pie, and then Eton Mess (my favourite), apple crumble (Matt’s favourite) or chocolate torte (everyone loves chocolate) for dessert.

We had an evening buffet of a cheese tower, pork pies, posh scotch eggs, pate and bread, which was very tasty. We purchased all our wine from Aldi throughout the year. We tried a number of blind taste testing with our families trying whites and reds before picking a Sauvignon Blanc and Malbec, which went down very well. The prosecco also ended up being from Aldi.

A Romantic Winter Wedding at Grays Court York (c) Andrew Keher (38)

Our entertainment kicked off with a surprise of my dad playing a few of our favourite songs, he is really talented musician and was a lovely surprise! My dad also wrote and recorded the music I walked down the aisle to, it was gorgeous and made it really special for us! His performance was followed by The Rockits, a 50s/60s band from Liverpool. They had been recommended to us and they were brilliant. They had everyone dancing from their first song, through to when the DJ started. Our DJ was a wedding present from some of our friends, we had Martin from Unique DJs and he played a great selection of vinyl, keeping everyone dancing until the very end. They all provided a great atmosphere and fab party, which is exactly what we wanted!

A Romantic Winter Wedding at Grays Court York (c) Andrew Keher (44)

We would recommend both of our venues to other wedding couples. Grays Court is great for that luxury, beautiful, characterful feel with fantastic staff. NCEM were great in providing a beautiful canvas for us to style – so great for brides and grooms that are happy to do a lot themselves and don’t want to handover to a venue to plan/design it for them.

The whole day was full of lovely special moments, and we were so lucky being surrounded by all our family and friends at once for a full day! But if we had to pick favourite part of the day, it was our first dance – surprising, as before the wedding we were both dreading it and thought about not having one. We picked a song which we love – it was the first song Matt played me in the early days of our relationship. After the initial 30 seconds or so all our friends, family joined us dancing and singing along to the song. It was a really surreal, special and incredibly happy moment for us. It definitely set the tone for the rest of the night as the dance floor stayed full from that point on.

A Romantic Winter Wedding at Grays Court York (c) Andrew Keher (47)

We went away to Iceland for four days for a mini-moon after the wedding, which was absolutely stunning and a lovely way to relax after the big day. We are currently planning our big honeymoon to New Zealand in March. We are traveling up the north and south of the island in a campervan for three weeks!

Emma & Matt (558 of 607)

My top tip to other Brides Up North would be – try to relax, and enjoy the planning, picking things that you would like to do and for the right reasons. Trying to plan for every situation is so hard! The main thing is having all the special people in your life with you on your important day, as long as you have them, you’re good to go! Secondly, get wedding insurance! We bought ours from John Lewis. It doesn’t cost much and it was definitely worth it when our supplier went into administration. They sorted everything out very quickly for us.

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