understated elegance. stella york for a diy wedding in north yorkshire – gillian & james

16th March 2016 | Julia Braime

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A DIY Wedding in Yorkshire (c) Louise Jacob Photography (28)

This morning’s real wedding just goes to show what can be achieved when people pull together and combine their skills.

Keen to keep costs down while getting creative, bride Gillian and groom James, called upon their friends to help style and decorate their wedding venue whilst rolling up their sleeves to pitch in with the pretty too.

The result is a simple yet stylish wedding, filled with meaningful homemade touches that were totally unique to Gillian and James’s big day.

With images by Louise Jacob Photography.

A DIY Wedding in Yorkshire (c) Louise Jacob Photography (35)

gillian says: We got engaged on the 23rd August 2014. James proposed at our home with a ring box that was made out of a log and had the words ‘Marry Me?’ inscribed on the top. He’d planted it amongst real logs and asked me to light a small fire while he made breakfast. I thought it was strange as it was August and pretty warm but he was very insistent. When I found the box and realised what was happening I was over the moon. When I looked round he was holding two glasses of champagne. It was perfect.

We got married on 26th September 2015. We knew we didn’t want to wait too long to get married as we’d already been together for nearly eight years when James proposed.

A DIY Wedding in Yorkshire (c) Louise Jacob Photography (11)

We had our ceremony and reception at The Red Lion in Burnsall, North Yorkshire. It’s a lovely rustic style venue nestled in a beautiful part of Yorkshire. It was important to be able to have our friends and family stay over with us and they have a number of rooms available as well as cottages next door.

We didn’t have a theme as such but were going for a look of simple understated elegance. I’m not overly creative but to keep costs down I wanted to do as much of the decorating as possible. I set up Pinterest boards for the different areas of the wedding and enlisted the help of my friend Ros and together with James, we decorated jars and made bunting. The day before the wedding the three of us and my chief bridesmaid Michelle, were busy cutting flowers and putting up fairy lights. It was manic but immense fun.

A DIY Wedding in Yorkshire (c) Louise Jacob Photography (12)

Everyone kept asking about the colour scheme of the wedding and I managed to dodge it as long as possible as I didn’t have one. I wanted to get my bridesmaid dresses and then to make sure the flowers would go well with them. We were getting flowers from a flower market anyway so it had to depend on what they had available. In the end it was white, yellow and purple mostly for flowers. The bridesmaids’ dresses were described on the label as aqua but they were a pastel green to me.

A DIY Wedding in Yorkshire (c) Louise Jacob Photography (15)

My dress was by Stella York. It was a lace and tulle gown with an illusion top. I got it from Rachael Scott of The Bridal Lounge, Highgate in Lincolnshire. I had a lot of the underskirt/netting taken out as it was a ball gown style and being only 5’ 2” it swamped me but I knew with the alterations it could look great. My shoes were from Irregular Choice, I fell in love with them instantly and they doubled as my ‘something blue.’

James wore a three piece suit that came from Next. We had really liked the tweed look that was popular but he went into Next on the off chance and found a lovely navy suit that was great value. It looked really expensive on and was comfortable too. The groomsmen wore the same as James.

My bridesmaid dresses were from Debenhams, the Butterfly collection by Matthew Williamson. The bridal party had their hair done on the morning of the wedding by Clair Blackmore, who is based in Leeds. She took care of my make up too. Clair was so relaxed on the day and is immensely talented. I would definitely recommend her.

A DIY Wedding in Yorkshire (c) Louise Jacob Photography (16)

Louise Jacob Photography covered our wedding. Louise was recommended by a friend and we hit it off straight away. It felt like we went on a journey together and the whole experience was amazing. It was great to do an engagement shoot a few months before the big day as we met face-to-face and James and I got to grips with being photographed. Louise’s involvement in our wedding enhanced the whole experience as she was as excited about it as we were. We knew she took wonderful photographs but we were blown away when we got ours. It brought the whole day to life all over again and we can’t recommend her highly enough.

We also had our day filmed by videographer Simon Manning. He backs up all his footage and has a very simple pricing plan. We haven’t received our final DVD yet but it’s due to arrive soon and we’re very excited. Simon has lots of equipment, including a drone, and is able to take some beautiful shots of the venue. He has a really good eye and he’s a perfectionist – great qualities in a videographer.

A DIY Wedding in Yorkshire (c) Louise Jacob Photography (25)

I did the bouquets and the button holes myself the day before the wedding. I’d had a practice go and had watched a few videos and found some great articles on Pinterest. Having a florist no doubt takes the stress out of it as you choose the flowers and can leave the rest to them but as were trying to keep costs down it seemed like a good thing to try. I was pleased with the end result but I would say they would have lasted longer if made by a professional.

My friends and I did all the table flowers. Ros also made a wedding wreath that looked superb above the fireplace where we had our ceremony. The day before the wedding was a very busy one but it had a real buzz about it.

A DIY Wedding in Yorkshire (c) Louise Jacob Photography (24)

We had a terrace area outside of The Red Lion where we had our welcome drinks. To decorate this area I got old catering tins from work and spray painted them and planted them up with lavender and other in-season plants.

James and I are particularly fond of the lemon liqueur Limoncello so decided to give this to guests as favours. We bought mini bottles online from, and personalised labels for them too. We sterilised them and filled them with our favourite drink. We used parcel labels to write each guest’s name on and the favour doubled as the table setting. We did jars of sweets for the children.

A DIY Wedding in Yorkshire (c) Louise Jacob Photography (32)

James is interested in baking bread and had the idea that he’d like bread for the wedding, instead of a traditional sponge cake. Ros approached the Leeds Bread Co-op and Isaac there got in touch to say they’d be interested in coming up with a wedding bread. He spent time trying out several doughs and then we went for a tasting. We wanted three tiers and went for one of Chelsea buns, an orange blossom and cranberry Vanocka and a citrus, almond and vanilla Kugelhopf. We had butter and jams next to them on the day, but they tasted great on their own.

For the wedding breakfast we were given a menu selection from The Red Lion and went for tomato and basil soup to start, a choice of lamb or salmon for the main, with spinach and mushroom lasagne for vegetarian guests. For dessert we decided on Eton Mess.

A DIY Wedding in Yorkshire (c) Louise Jacob Photography (39)

Entertainment was provided by the DJ that The Red Lion recommends, called Sam Mason. He is very adaptable and asked us to suggest about 30 songs so he could get an idea of what we liked and played some of them throughout the evening.

Following our wedding we would definitely recommend our venue to other brides and grooms. Sarah at The Red Lion ensures that everything runs smoothly on the day and nothing seemed too much trouble. I loved that they let each couple decorate the venue how they want as it makes it seem more individual.

A DIY Wedding in Yorkshire (c) Louise Jacob Photography (42)

There was so much we enjoyed about our big day but most of all we loved the ceremony and the speeches. We hadn’t expected to enjoy the ceremony part as much as we did but you finally realise what all the work was for. The speeches were great too. My mum gave a speech in place of my dad, who died before the wedding. It could have been a sad day not to have dad there, he’d have loved it, but mum gave a great speech, along with James and his best man and brother Mark. I don’t think we stopped laughing throughout.

A DIY Wedding in Yorkshire (c) Louise Jacob Photography (44)

For our honeymoon we went to Calabash Cove Resort and Spa, Castries Beach, St Lucia. We booked it with The Holiday Place. It’s an all-inclusive resort and we stayed in a swim-up junior suite, which meant we could walk out of our room and straight into the infinity pool. Magical.

My top tip for other Brides Up North would be – don’t procrastinate. I kept putting off making decisions as I thought I had loads of time but those last couple of months were manic. Set yourself a schedule of when you need to do things and then set time aside to get on with it. I would have saved myself a lot of sleepless nights if I had taken this bit of advice! All your work will be worth it. It really is the best day of your lives. My best piece of advice came from Sarah at The Red Lion. She suggested we get married as early as possible. We went for 1pm. I’m glad we listened as it meant we were able to make the most of the day.

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