The bride from this morning’s real wedding has lots of words of wisdom for you ladies in the planning stages, so have a sit down with a comforting cuppa and prepare to take note.
Organising their big day in just six months, bride and groom Emma and Dan, decided on a relaxed occasion for their family and friends that would also be pretty and fun. Finding tuned-in suppliers to help their vision become reality, Emma described the rustic feel she wanted to create and left it to the experts, who well and truly delivered.
This left Emma and Dan time to concentrate on nailing the other key areas, such as catering and entertainment, plus their attire. Can you believe Emma’s stunningly detailed dress is from the high street?! Us neither!
With images by Brides Up North Sponsor James Tracey Photography.
emma says: We got engaged in November2015 in New York. I had bought a trip to New York for Dan’s 30thBirthday in July. Dan had decided this was where he was going to propose and in the months leading up he had sourced and designed my engagement ring through a family friend – Barnard’s Jewellers. We had decided to spend the day exploring central park and thought it would be fun to hire a rowing boat on Central Park lake. Whilst out on the boat Dan proposed. It was very lovely and a total surprise! We celebrated with a bottle of Prosecco in the boat house.
Once we had got engaged we knew we wanted to get married the next year. We started to look at some venues in the north as Dan is from Yorkshire and I am from the North West. We were really flexible and although I had a rustic theme in my head we were open to what that looked like.
In the end we chose to marry at East Riddlesden Hall, West Yorkshire, which is a National Trust site. I had wanted a rustic feel to our wedding so we had looked at both barns and marquees but when we looked at East Riddlesden we loved the set up and the grounds, having some outdoor open space was important to us. The barn itself was also really pretty, I loved the lights and rustic feel. Although we went to view the venue on a cold wet day in December I could see that it was the perfect location. When we met the wedding team and East Riddlesden, not only were they lovely and full of enthusiasm but we couldn’t believe how much support we would have from them, not only the day, but the run up too.
Our wedding date was Friday 13thMay 2016. East Riddlesden said they had a cancellation and had availability for that date so we just decided to go for it. Some people may have been a bit suspicious of Friday 13th but it didn’t really bother us.
We didn’t have a specific wedding theme, but I’d say our style was rustic and relaxed. I didn’t want a wedding were I would feel uncomfortable, I just wanted it to be a fun day that was an extension of us. We knew we wanted everyone to have fun and that played a part in choosing aspects of our day. We didn’t want anything too formal for the wedding party and so the colours and style for suits and dresses happened quite organically as did the decoration and flowers. The venue really spoke for itself and so all we had to really do was enjoy it.
I really wanted to keep the wedding very soft and romantic, so we went for a neutral colour palette, picking soft blush pinks and creams.
I really didn’t have an idea of what dress I wanted and so was really open to the style. I wanted it to be in keeping with the venue so I knew it wouldn’t be too traditional. I had seen the Jenny Packham Esme and fell in love with the style but couldn’t really justify the price tag. I tried similar styles and found the Phase Eight Hope dress. When I tried the dress I knew this was the one. To make it feel a little more personal had the back altered, lowering the internal panel, the straps shortened and a bustle fitted.
To keep with the vintage feel of the dress I opted for a Juliet cap veil, which I felt suited the dress perfectly. I had the veil made and loved the fact that I could take it off later in the evening but still have the head band in place. I wore Jenny Packham No1 shoes and decided to go with a blush colour to match the bridesmaids.
My make up was done by Lauren Sally Make Up.
Dan wanted a rustic feel to his suit, so he opted for a wool suit from Next. The ushers and best man wore the same but to keep it casual we had in just waistcoats rather than jackets.
As my dress wasn’t traditional I didn’t want the bridesmaids to be too formal either. I really liked the idea of them wearing different styles or colours but in the end we settled on the blush dress from ASOS. I didn’t want it to be too matching so we ordered the midi and long length and the girls chose which style they liked best.
Our photographer was James Tracey. We were both really keen not to have formal staged wedding photos, we really wanted someone who was going to capture moments in the photos and reflect the style of the day. I stumbled across James by accident just doing a general Google search but was so thrilled that I found him. We arranged to Skype the following week and instantly hit it off. I recall my husband asking that if we didn’t have him as the photographer could we still invite him to the wedding. My friends had given me lots of advice to really make sure you get on with your photographer as it’s the equivalent to having them as guest as you spend so much time with them. So based on Dan’s reaction and an hour-and-half Skype conversation, we knew he would be perfect. James didn’t fail to deliver. He made us all feel really comfortable and was a real hit with all of our guests. The end result really spoke for itself as we were absolutely thrilled with the pictures. He has captured everything we wanted and more.
I wanted the flowers for the wedding to be very natural, soft and romantic, with colours in keeping with the theme. My florist Lynne from Stems Design was recommended by Rachel Chippendale of Simply Vintage Events, who we hired to decorate the barn at East Riddelsden. When I met with Lynne and explained my ideas and showed her images of the dress etc. she knew exactly what would work. My bouquet on the day was a beautiful hand tied bouquet, made up of ups and downs containing quicksand and pale pink avalanche roses with cream peonies and sweet pea astilbe, this was framed with white hydrangea with senecio and olive foliage.
As mentioned, we hired Rachel Chippendale to decorate the barn for both our ceremony and reception, who was absolutely brilliant. We wanted to keep everything very simple and rustic and so Rachel worked alongside Lynne to create exactly what we wanted. The barn itself is very beautiful and we really wanted to enhance, rather than mask, any of the features. We were keen to make use of the beautiful barn doors that open up on to the lake, so we had our ceremony facing the doors and had Rachel to decorate the doors with swathes of material forming a frame for the lake. Rachel used rustic boxes, lanterns, flowers and rose petals to create and alter and decorate the aisle.
The centre pieces on the tables were wooden slabs and antique looking glass boxes filled with similar flowers to the bouquet and tea lights. To maintain the rustic feel we had hessian runners and each napkin was decorated with either a sprig of rosemary of thyme.
Rachel and her team worked on the venue the day before, putting together any requests we had asked for and her own special touches. What was lovely was seeing the venue for the first time on the morning of the wedding was just as much a surprise for me as it was for the guests.
For our table plan we decided to have a “find your face find your place”. We sourced funny/embarrassing photos of all of our guests and had them transferred into little Polaroids, we hung these from a frame in the barn and had this as our table plan. We felt this was a nice touch, keeping a relaxed feel and injecting some fun. It had people talking (and laughing) which was exactly what we wanted.
Our wedding favours were egg cups. We were really stuck for a theme for our favours as we wanted it to feel personal and none of the ideas were really making the grade. We were also struggling to think of place names for the guests wanting to come up with something original, so we decided to incorporate the two. Dan’s family has an Easter tradition of “egg jarping” which has been played every year since the early 60’s. They even have a family trophy which has the name of every winner since 1963, so we thought it would be fun to incorporate this into our wedding day. We sourced wooden egg cups and decorated them with our initials and wedding date. We then used the eggs to also act as place names. It took quite a lot of trial and error to get it just right, we wanted the eggs in pastel colours to match the colour scheme so we ended up dying 80 duck eggs and then printing the guest’s names on tattoo paper so we could stick the names to the eggs. We were so pleased with the end result. We laid out the rules on each table and the winner from each got to take part in the final – Isaac, Dan’s 18-month-old nephew, was the overall champion.
We chose a “naked” wedding cake. I had seen the design on wedding blogs and Pinterest. I just loved the undone nature of the cake and felt it really suited the feel of our wedding. Dan’s mum very generously offered to make the cake and was soon supported by his two aunts. We loved the homemade personal feel to having our cake made by the family.
Our catering for the wedding was supplied by a company called Eat Me Drink Me. Not only was the food amazing but the service we had from them was superb. Nothing was too much, they helped us select the right menu within our budget. We chose a sharing meze platter for starters, with lamb to follow (asparagus risotto for the vegetarian guests) and finished off with a trio of desserts – crème brule, lemon tart and chocolate fondant.
At the last minute we decided to have canapes with our drinks after the ceremony but we wanted cream scones (an afternoon tea type of feel) which were not on their menu. They were more than happy to accommodate our request and the end result was perfect. To top it all off the waiting staff that were supplied by them were great, especially Diane who ensured that we were well looked after and went above and beyond making our day go really smooth. Again we wanted all of the food and drink to reflect the overall theme of the wedding, relaxed and informal. All of the food was beautifully presented and all of our guests commented as to how it nice it was
When we booked East Riddelsden Hall we started researching some of their recommended suppliers, one of which was New York Brass Band. I was initially looking for some evening entertainment but when I saw what they could do I wanted to somehow incorporate the band into our wedding. It didn’t take long to convince Dan and after watching some of their YouTube videos we were really excited. We came up with the idea to have the band be a surprise for our guest, so the band followed us out just after our confetti tunnel and lead a precession up to the gardens were we hosting the drinks and canapés. It really worked and the band far surpassed our expectations. They were so entertaining, providing the uplifting fun atmosphere that we were hoping for. At the end they lead all the guests back down in a conga line which really set the tone for the evening. Every one of our guests commented on how fun it was, people were taking pictures, videos, dancing, which was exactly the reaction we wanted.
For our evening entertainment we hired a band called Tom Rocks and the Replicants, who were recommended by our photographer. We had looked at a few bands prior to this but none of them really excited us, so we were really pleased when we looked at James’s recommendation, and even more pleased when the band confirmed they were available for our date. We were not disappointed – they killed it and were so entertaining getting really interactive with the guests and those on the dance floor. What made it even better is that a lot of the band are Liverpool supporters so when I requested a first dance to In My Life by the Beatles they were all too happy to oblige. As a joke I even suggested they do You’ll Never Walk Alone. I was blown away when not only did they do this, but the quality of Tom’s voice was amazing. Of all the things our guests talked about the days and weeks after it was the entertainment so we were really pleased at how well they had worked out.
I couldn’t recommend East Riddelsden Hall enough to couples, it ticks all the boxes. Not only is the venue itself stunning, set in beautiful surroundings perfect for guests and photos, but the team and support there are phenomenal. Our wedding planner Evelynn was fantastic, on the lead up to our wedding she was really helpful with suggestions, advice, recommendations – nothing was too much trouble. On the day she ensured that everything went to plan, that we wanted for nothing and all of the stress was taken away from us. I think on your wedding day this is one of the most important aspects, they assured me of all eventualities and I had complete faith that all would be fine.
My favourite part of the day was definitely the brass band. It worked out exactly as I imagined, we had worked so hard to keep it a secret and I am so glad we did. Just the atmosphere created alongside my excitement of just getting married and then walking with all my friends and family to the gardens was just an amazing feeling.
We booked our honeymoon through Turquoise Holidays. Dan really wanted safari but I was keen to get some downtime after the wedding, so Turquoise helped us create a trip that incorporated both. We booked Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa, staying in a suite at Sanctuary Makanyane Safari lodge for three nights and then spent seven nights in Mauritius staying at the Long Beach Hotel and Spa. The whole holiday was very special but the time we spent in South Africa was something else, not only the accommodation we stayed in, which was out of this world, but the animals and the experience really was once in a life time.
I would recommend Turquoise to anyone booking their honeymoon, they made the whole experience very smooth, and with little touches here and there it was a great service. They also offer a gift service, which we used rather than registering with a store, that way friends and family could contribute to our fabulous experience.
We planned our wedding in six months so there was a certain level of flexibility we had to have to achieve a wedding in this timescales. My top tips to other Brides Up North working to a similar deadline would be – get organised – we had a spreadsheet which made it so easy to keep track of cost and contact etc. and – have faith in the experts – I told my florist and my stylist, ideas that I had, what I wanted the day to feel like, the colours and left the rest up to them. They are the ones that have done this a hundred times and know what’s in season and what works well together, so I relied on their expertise. At the end of the day you are on the same team. Turning a wedding around in six months can be quite stressful but we played to each other’s strengths and kept reminding ourselves why we were doing it, when the going got tough.