If you’re looking for inspiration for a fun city centre celebration then you might want to take note of today’s real wedding, which took place in Liverpool.
Opting for a church ceremony and restaurant reception, Zoë and Shaun’s big day had both traditional and modern influences. There are so many elements to it that we love, including the city bus tour, pastel colour scheme, personal stationery, live entertainment and Zoë’s stunning Charlote Balbier gown!
All in all a very enjoyable and relaxed big day!
With images by Ruth Atkinson Photography.
zoe says: We got engaged a couple of weeks before Christmas in 2013, when we hosted a party for our friends. Once it was suggested that we did Secret Santa at the party, Shaun’s plan came together. It was engineered so that my present was last and after opening up a notebook with a message leading to a ring in the back, I looked up and Shaun was on one knee!
Our wedding was on Friday 25 March 2016, which was Good Friday. We chose the date as we were looking for a time in spring when everyone could come together so the long weekend seemed like the perfect time. We didn’t want to get married in summer as we were worried the British weather might not be up to scratch.
We chose the church because, aside from being completely beautiful, the Minister was very open-minded about our ceremony and allowed us to have the relaxed service that we wanted, with secular readings and our own choir. The church also had beautiful cloisters and library where we were able to hold a drinks reception after the ceremony. We chose Oh Me Oh My for the reception as it is a stunning former bank serving amazing food and with a roof terrace that has the best view of the Liver Building you can possibly get.
We didn’t have a theme as such; we tended to pick elements we liked and everything fell into place. We ended up hand-making lots of elements, such as signs, table decorations, favours, all of the stationery and one thousand paper cranes. We didn’t necessarily set out to make so much ourselves but since Shaun is a designer, it made good sense.
We chose a fresh a spring colour palate, mostly pastel yellow and grey with a splash of blue and white. However we weren’t too strict with this so we could incorporate other accent colours where we wanted to.
I wore a dress called Iscoyd Park by Charlotte Balbier from the wonderful Belle’s Bridal Boutique in Liverpool. The dress has a vintage feel to it and it includes quite a lot of gold detail. I wasn’t sure it would go with the yellow and grey scheme but we made it work somehow! I knew I would end up with something quite fitted and absolutely loved the back detail and the sleeves of Iscoyd Park. It was one of the first dresses I tried on and it set the bar!
On the day of the wedding Carol Ellis Thompson did my hair, and I absolutely loved it! She managed to work out a style that looked very relaxed on the surface but it remained secure all day. Sam Holloway, of Sam Holloway Beauty Studios in Sheffield, took care of my make-up. She suggested that I wore more than I usually would so that it would last all day and look great in photos, but she still managed a natural look. I didn’t have to touch it up at all. Both of these women worked some miracles and they come highly recommended!
Shaun wore a three-piece overcheck plaid tweed suit from Jennis & Warmann. The company has a store in London but Shaun ordered his online. We had to send more than 40 measurements to make sure the fit was precise. Sure enough, a month later the suit arrived and it was perfect. He also wore a yellow tie, pocket square and socks.
Shaun’s best man, groomsmen and both of our dads wore a grey three-piece suit from Slaters. They were each able to go to their own local store to try on and get fitted, and they all looked super smart in matching tan brogues from ASOS. Shaun also designed each of the men cufflinks, with their own monogram that matched our stationery, as a gift on the day.
My bridesmaids wore a gold sequin and cream tulle dress from Little Mistress. They each wore their own neutral heels.
The bridal party travelled from Hope Street Hotel to the church in a pale blue 1964 Morris Minor from Lea Wedding Cars. Our chauffeur, Richard, then drove us around for some photos on the way to the reception.
We also hired two open top buses from Sightseeing Liverpool to transport all of our guests to the reception venue. The buses went on a tour of the city while we had some photos taken around town. Lots of guests said this was a highlight so Shaun and I are sad we missed it! The buses stopped outside the Royal Liver Building for a group photo before everyone walked across the road to Oh Me Oh My.
Our photographer was Ruth Atkinson, who we would definitely recommend! We have had so many positive comments about our photos since the wedding. We chose Ruth after stumbling across her blog and we really liked her style. Ruth takes honest, personal photos and manages to capture the atmosphere of the occasion without being intrusive. We didn’t even realise she was there at times, but she was commanding when she needed to be. We were also very impressed with her pre and post wedding care.
A friend of a friend, Emily Smailes, did all of our flowers. She did an incredible job in bringing our ideas to life. We both knew the sorts of colours and styles we wanted but we didn’t really have the knowledge to explain it properly! We had spring bouquets with an unstructured, relaxed feel to them. Flowers included daisies and irises as well as plenty of greenery. Emily also arranged spring flowers in jars and bottles on the tables at the reception, as well a big bucket of tulips and a couple of other arrangements to finish things off.
In addition to the flowers we made a thousand paper cranes to decorate the venue. Most of these were hung in the window behind the top table. Shaun had been into origami for years and both of us liked the idea including this in our wedding as a complement to the geometric style of the stationery design. We also liked the idea of a wish being granted if we managed to make a thousand, according to the Japanese legend. Some close friends helped us reach the final figure as the wedding date drew nearer.
We made some tiny versions of the cranes and put them inside miniature glass bottles with corks on top as favours. Shaun made most of these on the bus to work one week. We had decided we would only do favours if we could think of something that people might want to take away with them and that made sense within our day. It also meant that we were able to share our wish with our friends and family.
Our friend and wedding guest, Jess, made our wedding cake. The bottom tier was carrot cake, followed by chocolate and with a gluten-free fruit cake on top. It looked amazing, although neither of us got to try any so we’ll have to take people’s word for it. Shaun’s mum made a number of sugar craft peonies to decorate the cake, beautifully tying the flowers and the cake together. We also had a six tier cheese cake from Liverpool Cheese Co, which was pretty much demolished!
After the ceremony we had drinks and nibbles in the library and cloisters at the church. Our friend and wedding guest, Maddie, organised hot cross buns and other Easter treats for everyone and we planned a little East egg hunt for the kids. We got our prosecco from Castello di Roncade in Italy, which guests then took onto the buses as well!
For our wedding breakfast we chose sharing-style foods which encouraged guests to interact and try different things. We had sharing platters of Italian meats and British ingredients, as well as a spring stew and beef bourguignon. A selection of delicious miniature desserts was then served. In the evening we served bacon sandwiches, cheese and cake.
As entertainment, we hired live band Geronimo Joe and the Lightning Boys. Two of the band members were guests at the wedding. They were incredible. They played two sets of popular covers from a range of genres and absolutely brought the house down. The band were followed by DJ Rasp, who played a selection of disco, funk, soul and hip hop classics to round off the night.
Music is a really important part of our lives and so we wanted to include plenty of it in the wedding. Our very talented friends sang cappella versions of A Case of You by Joni Mitchell and an Aloe Blacc and Elbow mash-up while we signed the register. We had purposely avoided all of the rehearsals so as not to spoil the surprise; they sounded incredible! Our friend, Jonas, played piano during the drinks reception at the church and he also accompanied me when I sang a song, which Shaun and the guests knew nothing about! Two other friends played a song in the drinks reception, which was another surprise to Shaun.
We also choreographed a routine in secret so our first dance, to Michael Jackson’s PYT, was a very memorable moment!
Following our wedding, we would definitely recommend our choice of venues to other couples. Both were faultless in helping us plan and execute our day. They were so flexible and understanding and bent over backwards to help us with the extra details we wanted to include.
Looking back I find it impossible to pick a favourite moment of the day. I was very nervous all morning and at the beginning of the ceremony, but as soon as I got into the swing of it, I loved every minute. Shaun says his favourite bit was when I sang to him after the ceremony.
After the wedding we went on honeymoon to Iceland and had an absolute blast. We had a few days in Reykjavik before driving north and exploring waterfalls, geysers and natural springs. It was great to get away and spend time together. We were so exhausted after the mammoth task of planning the wedding.
All of the clichés of planning a wedding are true, and so my top tips for other Brides Up North would be: Make sure you have a moment to take it all in. Enjoy the planning as it is all over so quickly. When it comes to budgeting, spend money on things that are important to you as you can always save on other areas. We made a lot of things ourselves; this took a lot of our time, but it meant we were able to put our own stamp on the day.
Our parents were amazingly supportive throughout and we hope they enjoyed the day as much as we did!