To get your week off to a fabulous start we’re heading to the North East to relive the beautiful big day of Emma and Stuart.
Brimming with laughter and smiles, this was a rustic and relaxed celebration with lots of fun and interactive elements for guests to enjoy; from social sharing boards at the wedding breakfast to bubble machines, giant deckchairs, entertaining games and, of course, dancing.
We must give a special mention for the wedding cake which looks like a creation worthy of Paul and Mary’s GBBO Showstopper title! An excellent bake!
With images by Jason Friend Photography.
emma says: We got engaged at the Inn on the Lake in Ullswater, on 8th May 2015. It was our three-year anniversary since our first date. We’d had a bit of a rough time with job moves after the threat of redundancy and Stuart realised after getting through so much together he didn’t want to be without me.
He booked the best room with a balcony overlooking the lake and had champagne and chocolates waiting in the room for our arrival. He took me for a walk to the lake and got down on one knee. I was the most awkward person to propose too – I just kept complaining about being hungry and demanded a roast beef and horseradish sandwich. I’m surprised he didn’t change his mind! Apparently he’d had it planned for weeks and had already asked my parents’ permission weeks in advance!
Our wedding was on July 2nd 2016. I knew I didn’t want a long engagement, so once I found the right type of venue with availability, I just grabbed a date.
The wedding took place at Vallum Farm in Northumberland. The area has a special place in both our hearts, as we spent a great deal of our childhoods there with our families, so it seemed right to marry in Northumberland. We aren’t religious but wanted to get married in order to celebrate our relationship with our families whilst enjoying great food, nice wine and a big party – Vallum was perfect for this. The marquee wasn’t even finished when I went to see it for the first time with my mam, but after meeting Hannah there and seeing the place, I knew it was perfect.
We didn’t have a wedding theme as such, but it was essential to have a huge relaxed, party atmosphere with all our loved ones. For the décor I chose rustic and vintage pieces that I felt would work well with the venue.
After seeing pictures of some giant balloons online, I decided that I wanted a bright, fun and colourful day of celebrations, and so chose a pink and turquoise green colour scheme. This also fitted well with the grey bridesmaid dress that my sister had chosen.
I found my House of Mooshki Evie dress at Kathryn Trueman. I made two alterations to the style in the shop. The dress was originally tea length, but I wanted a ballerina length. I thought it was different to a number of wedding dresses I had seen and also my complexion doesn’t lend itself well to white, so the champagne/blush colour of the dress would be perfect. I loved the hem and the layered skirt – I knew it was the dress as soon as I saw it online. The bow at the waistband was another addition I made, as I had the skirt lengthened I felt the dress could take a little more detail. The back was also so pretty with all the buttons. It was the most beautiful dress I had ever worn and I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it.
As my had grandad passed away last year and I wanted a piece of him with me on my wedding day so my grandma lent me her blue opal earrings that he had given to her – so I had my something old, borrowed and blue all in one go. I felt like he was there with me.
My hair band was from a tiny shop in Nice. When Stuart and I went on holiday in July I found it and he bought it for me. I’d tried lots of alternatives but I couldn’t find anything I liked nearly as much – with the pearls and darker gold it matched the earrings perfectly! My shoes were from Kurt Geiger. As my dress was so beautiful I wanted something simple which matched but didn’t take away from my dress.
On the day of the wedding my hair and makeup was taken care of by Lisa Jones. As soon as I described what I wanted she immediately went with it and helped me feel my most beautiful – it made my day effortless.
Stuart’s suit was a Black Friday House of Fraser bargain. It was a Skopes James Suit in brown. As the day was relaxed we wanted him to feel comfortable. His turquoise green tie added a pop of colour and went well with the navy suits worn by the best man and usher. I also bought Stuart some campervan cufflinks. I found them online and they were a personal touch between ourselves and matched the choice of wedding car for the day.
We didn’t intend for all the male members of the wedding party to match – our aim was to create as relaxed day as possible but, my dad wasn’t having any of that. So we just said for them to wear what they already owned, but all they insisted on buying themselves new suits so we just requested that they wore navy. Looking at the pictures now I’m so grateful they went to the effort for us.
My sister Jenny was my only bridesmaid. We were only having a small wedding and so I wanted to keep my nearest and dearest by my side and allow everyone else to sit back and relax and enjoy our day. It made choosing a dress easier too! Jenny found a Coast dress that she loved – though she did buy about eight pairs of shoes to match!
I travelled to the venue in a camper van hired from Canny Campers. Paul, who runs the company, was great; he was early and stopped on route so I could visit my grandma on the way in my dress as she was too ill to make the wedding. He also added the matching turquoise ribbons and provided champagne and personalised glasses to keep. We chose a campervan as it’s our aim when we get older to buy a caravan or a campervan, if we can afford to!
Our photographer was Jason Friend. After finding his website online, I was taken by the lack of ‘posed’ shots and really liked the moments he’d captured of other people’s days. Once we met him I knew he was perfect. Posing and arranged shots were kept to a minimum – although he was happy to get as many as people liked and whatever I requested. He captured some great moments for us to look back on. We’d highly recommend his services.
Flower Design, based in Whickham, did our lovely wedding flowers. I had no clue what I wanted as I have no knowledge at all of flowers. I went and made an appointment and gave a deposit – my only request was to use baby’s-breath and pinks and turquoise. On the morning of the wedding the flowers and button holes went to Vallum and the bouquets were delivered to my mam’s house – they were perfect!
For the reception table numbers and decorations I bought jugs off eBay and the floral elements were talent care of by our florist. I was also desperate to have some giant balloons like the ones I had seen online and so I ordered some from Paula at The Giant Balloon Company. Paula was a great help and everything got delivered well in advance with all required tails and weight.
As both Stuart and I are chocoholics we gave our guests treats from Gareth James Chocolatier as favours. We were keen to try and use local companies, as a daughter of a small business owner I like to support small businesses and so tried to use them in my choice of wedding suppliers. Our initial supplier went out of business and returned our deposit so I had a huge panic attack, but then Stuart found Gareth James. Each guest received a box with two chocolates in; one lemon and one mint. Gareth even suggested white mice for the three children who attended, which was a really nice touch!
My friend Emma Goldsmith makes the most delicious cakes and has recently gone into business making them, so there was no other option but to use her for our cake. We Googled ideas and then hit upon the most adventurous cake ever – and Emma came up trumps! I was really blown away by it! It was literally the icing on the cake of our big day. We had three layers; Victoria, lemon and chocolate sponge. It was delicious and tasted even better than it looked, which I didn’t think would be possible!
To continue the informality of the day we chose to have the sharing boards offered by Vallum for our wedding breakfast, before which guests enjoyed an array of canapes. The food was endless and no one went hungry. It really was fab; pork and beef, vegetables, breads – it just kept coming! We finished with a trio of deserts; lemon posset, chocolate brownie and, the specially requested, Bakewell slice. Everywhere my mam, sister and I go we have a Bakewell tart and so it made my day even more personal for Vallum to incorporate it into our wedding menu.
As our wedding entertainment we wanted a folky kind of band, but with songs people knew and wanted the dance floor full for the night. The band we chose, 11am Somewhere, were great and got everyone on their feet. They played a real variation in songs that were aimed at all ages.
Extras at the reception included big ‘love’ light-up letters, a vintage bike provided by Ruby’s Tea Party, and some fabulous giant deck chairs hired from Creative Imagineering, which I thought would be a great photo opportunity for our guests. I also wanted to have a fun guest book and so rather than hiring one I thought I’d be different and create my own! I gathered props and frames and a Polaroid camera, and provided double sided tape and a pen. The outcome was immense – our guest book is filled with great messages but even better pictures!
After hosting our wedding at Vallum Farm we would most definitely recommend the venue to other brides and grooms. Hannah and her staff were fantastic! Vallum is known for its food, but they really went above and beyond to make sure our day was amazing. I loved every second of it and it was completely worry-free!
Looking back I think my favourite part of the day was walking back down the aisle towards our reception room. We had a bubble machine instead of confetti and it created a really nice moment. It was great to have all the legal bit done and then be able to look forward to good food and a fabulous celebration with our nearest and dearest.
For our honeymoon we went on a romantic break to the Isle of Skye.
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be – don’t stress! I had a near breakdown on the Friday as there seemed so much to do, but rely on your suppliers – they do this as a profession and so they know what they are doing! Funnily enough on Saturday morning as it was out of my hands completely, I was really relaxed and the photographer said it was the most relaxed wedding prep he’d ever seen!