It’s holiday season here on the blog, and as the editorial team take a short break, we’ll be leaving you with a reduced blogging schedule so that you still get your daily dose of wedding lovely. Usual service will recommence on Monday 4th July 2016 but in the meantime watch out for recaps of some of our favourite Real Weddings so far this year.
Drop in every day for the very prettiest, most unique wedding inspiration and – if you are a Brides Up North bride – to see if your real wedding was one of our top picks.
Before we start today’s post we must warn that it may cause serve weakness of the knees.
Florence and Stephen’s wedding takes place at what we believe is one of the most stunning wedding venues in the North, not only that, but it was held during one of our favourite months of the year, and it features our top hues of pale pink and elegant gold.
As a real family occasion with the bride and groom’s children fully involved, this is a wedding day that really is beautiful through and through.
We could seriously swoon over this one all day, but instead of rabbiting on we’ll let you see the pretty for yourselves – just make sure you’re sitting down first!
With images by Nicola Helen Photography.
florence says: We got engaged in 2012 at Matfen Hall Hotel in Northumberland. We had been together a few years and I was expecting our son, Hugo. I was quite pregnant by this point and feeling tired. Stephen surprised me with a night away so we headed to Matfen and just spent the afternoon relaxing. He had booked the most expensive room in the hotel and I still had no idea. Just before we headed down to supper, he proposed in the window, overlooking the beautiful grounds. It was all quite relaxed. We ate in the Library Dining Room quite quietly excited to know we were finally going to get married!
Our wedding was on 31st October 2015, yes, Halloween! It most certainly was not a themed wedding, though there was a nod to the day with pumpkins scattered here and there. October is my favourite month and it was the last Saturday the venue had available – so we just went with it and now quite enjoy the looks on people’s faces when we tell them the date.
We initially wanted a venue that was very quiet and intimate, our local village hall perhaps. But we had fallen in love with a property in Lartington and knowing that we would be spending the rest of our lives there, we thought it would be wonderful to be able to tell the children that we were married locally.
Once we viewed Lartington Hall in Teesdale, we knew it was something special. My family are from Barnard Castle and my parents had stories about the Hall from years gone by. It just felt right. Once the hall was booked, things grew from there.
My favourite book is Great Expectations and although quite ironic as one of its main characters was jilted at the alter, the overall feeling of Miss Havisham’s house has always captivated me. The theatrical styling and muted elegance. In a meeting with wedding stationery designer Samantha Green, discussing this, we came up with the theme of ‘faded grandeur’ and went from there.
I didn’t really think of a colour scheme as such. I wanted the day to feel natural and ethereal, so we didn’t stick rigidly to a set of colours but thought more about keeping the tones similar. We picked out colours from the flowers I loved, taking into account the time of year. The colours that came through were golds and pinks, which suited the bridesmaids skin tones and sat well within the theme of the day.
I bought the first wedding dress I tried on! I don’t think I thought it through enough and wouldn’t recommend doing that. I didn’t want it to be the focal point of the day or the budget being blown on it so I went to a shop where it could be bought ‘off the shelf’. In hindsight, whether you want to be the focal point or not, on your wedding day you can’t avoid it and this was probably my only regret of the day. The intricate detailing on the dress I did chose was beautiful though, and its opulence suited the venue. The photographs have shown it to its best effect.
Stephen opted for a morning suit from Affleck and Moffat in Darlington, who were fantastic. He had his tweed waistcoat made-to-order by them too and will use it for shooting. It is lovely for him to have something special from the day too.
I knew I didn’t want the bridesmaids to wear the same dresses. They were different ages and wanted each dress to suit them individually so they were bought separately. Ensuring the fabrics and colours matched was a gamble as we didn’t put all the dresses together until the week before the wedding due to logistics. Luckily, they worked perfectly and each bridesmaid felt comfortable and beautiful on the day. The dresses were from Monsoon and Coast.
The groomsmen and page boy’s suit were also from Affleck and Moffatt. We had the groomsmen’s ties and handkerchiefs handmade. Our son, Hugo was a page boy and a cute addition was having his bow-tie, made to match the elder men’s ties. He stole the show.
I stayed at Lartington Hall the night before the wedding and so didn’t have to worry about travelling. Stephen and his best man meanwhile, stayed at a nearby hotel and travelled to the hall in his late father’s Jaguar.
My photographer was Nicola Helen Photography. I simply could not recommend her highly enough. From the initial meeting to discussing anything after the day she has been wonderful. She made us feel so at ease and really listened to our worries over the shots being ‘too structured’. I think her affinity with children shows, the little shots of our children are our favourites!
The flowers were provided by Elise Flowers from Thirsk. Although not ‘that’ local, Jean’s attention to detail and perfectionism were obvious from day one.
Elise Flowers provided all the flowers for the venue. As a keen gardener, I wanted them to be in abundance. Jean worked with Samantha Green, who styled the venue to create the theatrical displays.
The favours were a near disaster. We had a local honey supplier to provide personalised pots of Teesdale honey but very sadly, due to terrible circumstances they had to pull out. This left us with a dilemma. Luckily, we make rather large quantities of sloe gin every year and decided to use this – so we decanted it into little bottles for the gentlemen and provided the ladies with candles, which I thought would be a pretty and practical gift.
For the children I provided witches hats with stick on decorations. This entertained them at the table during the wedding breakfast, and they all enjoyed wearing them on the evening too.
I knew I didn’t want a cake that was too structured and had seen ‘naked cakes’ on Pinterest and loved them. I used Fairy Cakes & Co from Bedale. Lyndsey knew instantly what I wanted and after a brief meeting, I let her create whatever she felt would suit, down to the little gold pumpkins. Sometimes brides should have confidence that they are paying for the services of experts in the field and get better results if trust them to provide something fabulous. She did!
Stephen doesn’t like fruit cake so we had three layers of various cake flavours and I ordered a separate fruit cake for the evening to be served with cheese. The left-over cake was taken home and consumed rather quickly!
Wedding breakfasts can be notoriously boring but Lartington Hall works with Coughlans, a local catering firm, who are very knowledgeable and helpful. Several wines were sourced for the day by Coughlans, who just seemed to know what we would like. They also helped us find a great champagne at a good price as we had three separate champagne receptions on the day.
Although we attended a tasting day in the summer, we were mindful of the time of year we were getting married and chose hearty food that would warm the guests if the weather was terrible. A warm chicken salad to start, followed by local Teesdale beef and a sticky toffee pudding to end. It went down a treat on a wonderful autumnal day. Hot beef sandwiches were then served during the evening fireworks.
One of my oldest friends Barrie, is in a band called Ortopilot so the decision on who I wanted to provide entertainment was easy. It helps that they are really fantastic, often playing at parties held by Google! They played acoustic music while the guests entered the chapel and worked out a beautiful acoustic version of a dance song we love while we signed the register. They played piano all afternoon and then entertained the guests at the evening reception too.
There were a lot of children attending the wedding so to keep them happy we arranged for a company called Meet My Mascot, who provide ‘characters’ (we chose Spiderman and Cinderella) to take them into another room to entertain them with party tricks, singing and lots of Spiderman somersaulting for an hour while the adults could have a break and enjoy the speeches. It worked perfectly.
The evening guests arrived to a champagne reception and our decision to have fireworks on the evening was also something for those guests who hadn’t attended the wedding breakfast.
A huge part of the wedding and the reason it looked so utterly fantastic was Samantha Green, from Wedding Calligraphy by Samantha Green. She listened and understood exactly what I wanted. She worked tirelessly and always with a wonderful smile to create everything you see in the photographs. Samantha is a very talented lady and the wedding would not have been what it was without her.
Although the venue speaks for itself, the owners John and Shona were wonderful and I would highly recommend Lartington Hall. John’s endless patience at 3am emails about something very minor, or calming me with ‘practice’ walks of the aisle made the whole process easy. Nothing was too much trouble and we are happy to now be neighbours!
There were a couple of standout moments of the day for me. My teenage son Ben gave me away. Walking down the aisle with him, knowing how happy and proud he was, was magical. Equally, my nine-year-old daughter Harriet wanted to write her own poem for the service. Watching her standing there and so eloquently reciting her poem entitled ‘Love’ – something she had written just for us – was incredible.
With three children and recently purchasing our dream home, an old railway station in Lartington in need of major refurbishment, we couldn’t justify a tropical destination for our honeymoon. After much thought, we simply booked a hotel for a few days in Teesdale, the beautiful Rose and Crown at Romaldrkirk. We could relax by roaring fires and explore the area we will soon be calling home.
My top tip to other Brides Up North is – be very clear from the word go on your budget. Don’t be embarrassed to say you don’t want to spend X amount on any area of your day. After every little detail was put into place with very little expense spared, my favourite parts of the day were the moments that didn’t cost a penny.