There are smiles galore in today’s real wedding which took place in the beautiful village of Styal in Cheshire.
Falling head-over-heels for the quaint yet industrial feel of the area, Zoe and Chris set about planning their dream country village wedding, complete with chapel ceremony and mill reception.
Giving a nod to the venue’s history, sewing machines and bobbins formed part of the charming décor that was finished off with wonderful wildflower arrangements in glass bottles and jars.
From beginning to end this day looks to be full of love and laughter, with the entertainment including live music, face painting and photo booth fun!
With images by Stephen Rooney Photography.
zoe says: The decision to get married came about after Chris and I had been on a few walks and cycles around Styal village, Cheshire, and had commented on what a lovely place it would be to get married. Upon deciding on which venues we would hold the wedding at, we made contact with the relevant people to find that they only had a limited number of dates available, and so after a quick discussion, we booked it! A couple of months later Chris presented me with an engagement ring while I was in bed having a lay in on my day off. It was just before we went out for a walk to watch the solar eclipse!
We set the date for 23rd April 2016, as it was one of the few spring dates that the venue had left. We knew that we wanted to be outdoors a lot, and would walk across the village and the fields from the chapel to the reception venue on the wedding day. We also hoped to have our welcome drinks outdoors in the lovely gardens and so we needed a day with at least a chance of being dry and warm!
Our ceremony was at Norcliffe Chapel, followed by a reception at Quarry Bank Mill. We chose this location because it’s such a beautiful setting that we’ve grown quite attached to with living nearby.
We wanted to celebrate the setting of the mill and the workers village vibe, and so we kept an industrial theme in mind throughout the wedding planning. This made it quite easy to find inspirational images, although we already had so much in mind after walking around the area and inside the mill a few times.
Our colour scheme was orange and navy. Orange is my favourite colour and though I initially thought it might be a bit too much for a wedding, we felt the navy was a nice contrast and stopped the orange from being too garish.
I went wedding dress shopping with a long list of things I didn’t want, and a few features that I liked the idea of. Agape Bridal Boutique in Altrincham, was my first stop on the day, and after chatting to Sara for a while, I was ready to try on a few dresses that I’d picked out with my mum and my best friend. There was one more dress that Sara insisted I try on first tough – and it was perfect! It was the Louise design by Forget Me Not. The main thing about it was the length, I never expected to wear a tea-length, but I absolutely loved it, and everyone has said they can’t imagine me in anything else, it was just so right! I went to my other appointments but nothing compared. It was made-to-measure so a perfect fit, they even added an orange underskirt for another personal touch. I designed my own shoes on the website Shoes of Prey, as I couldn’t find orange shoes that were a little bit special anywhere. I was able to get a personalised message on the soles, a quote from Star Wars that Chris and I have been saying to each other for years, “I love you”, “I know”. It always makes us smile.
Chris chose to wear a navy suit from Slaters. We knew it needed to be navy and tried quite a few in lots of hire places but none of them felt as good as the tailored suit in Slaters – they did us a great deal too. We found paisley ties and handkerchiefs online in the perfect shade of orange to match the theme. Chris loves his shoes, so got a unique brown pair from Barker for the big day.
The best man, ushers and our dads all matched Chris, as did our nephew, who was our ring bearer.
The bridesmaids wore navy dresses from Coast, which I chose because the neckline and lace were similar to my dress. Their shoes were orange peep-toes from Faith. My mum then made little orange dresses with navy silk sashes for my two nieces who were flower girls, to match the adult bridesmaid dresses.
Macleod Bradley Hair Salon in Didsbury, took care of mine, my mum’s, the bridesmaids’ and the flower girls’ hair on the morning on the wedding. They were great and offered a really good bridal party package.
Chris works at a Sytner so when it came to arranging wedding cars he was able to borrow a 2016 McLaren S705 to drive himself and his best man to the chapel, as well as a 2016 Rolls Royce Ghost to transport ushers and his dad. Our mums went to the venue early with the flower girls in a VW camper from VW Occasions, which then came back for the bridesmaids. My dad and I travelled in a 1925 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost in navy, hired from Broadoak of Manchester.
Stephen Rooney captured our day. We chose him because we liked his natural and journalistic style as we didn’t want too many posed shots. He was great on the day; really enthusiastic and professional, we barely noticed him and he got some great natural shots. We did have a number of posed portraits, which were really artistic and had an industrial feel to them to match our theme.
We chose our florist, Forage and Blossom, based in Harrogate, due to her beautiful wildflower arrangements. We didn’t want anything that looked too formal as we wanted it to fit with the countryside village setting. She made fantastic arrangements of oranges, yellows and whites, and she even included cotton at Chris’s request to reflect the cotton mill. Alice did bouquets and buttonholes for the bridal party, as well as lots of small, medium and large bottle and jar arrangements for the reception room and tables.
As the centrepiece each table had an old singer sewing machine that we had been collecting on eBay in the run-up to the wedding. Chris is an expert in singers now! We also bought vintage bobbins off Etsy, which I wrapped in either orange or navy cotton, as well as a mix of bottles and jars that were filled with wildflowers and cotton. We also had runners across each table with an old print showing the mill, the chapel and Styal village. The fabric was gorgeous and my mum also made some bunting with it! As another focal point, we bought old wooden ladders and a collection of mismatched frames and put our favourite photos of us, our friends and families on each rung with small bottles of flowers.
We decided to make favours out of guests’ place names using little mismatched bottles from Etsy, which we wrapped in twine and tied a tag to. We stuck metal cogs onto the tags and had each person’s name written on by calligrapher Brian Colvin, which was surprisingly affordable! We also bought small hessian bags from Not on the High Street, which we stamped with custom made stamps to match our stationery from The English Stationery Company. We filled the bags with Yorkshire mix (Haribo for the kids) and a little singer sewing machine charm for the ladies. Every place setting also had a small wooden menu card that we designed to match all our stationery and cut at Fab Lab in Manchester.
Our cake was made by one of my closest friends, Helen Flynn, an architect who also makes beautiful things for weddings. It looked and tasted amazing. We had our cake topper 3D printed from the Asda photo studio, both being scanned in our wedding gear separately so my dress stayed secret (except from all the Asda shoppers that saw me being scanned as unfortunately the machine is in the middle of the shop floor!)
For our wedding breakfast we had a starter of Cheshire cheese soufflé, followed by roast beef with all the trimmings, and strawberry shortcake for dessert. We are massive meat and cheese lovers, and the food was delicious – they even made the shortcake as a special request as it wasn’t on their menu.
In terms of entertainment we had the Live Lounge Duo to sing and play guitar on the lawn during the drinks reception. They then played an acoustic set during the meal that went down so well that a few of the tables stopped eating to sing along! In the evening we had a vintage open photo booth from Booth Revolution and face painters from Occasions Parties, who were not just for the kids! Chris and I both had full sugar skulls on our faces, and there was also a character from The Mighty Boosh, The Joker, an emoji and a lot of animals and flowers among our guests.
One of my favourite special touches to the wedding day was our choice of music. We walked out of the chapel to Star Wars music, which was a very personal reference to us and Chris’s love of Star Wars. Other fans couldn’t believe it! We also both created an hour-long playlist for the evening – it was a bit of a competition to see who could get more people dancing, Chris won with singalong ballads that everyone joined in with, he even had the DJ hand out inflatable guitars and microphones.
As another special touch we designed as much of the wedding stationery as we could ourselves, including the save the dates, invites and the order of service.
After our wedding we would highly recommend Quarry Bank Mill as a venue to other couples. We love the mill; it’s a unique building in a really beautiful setting and offers a lot of different spaces to use. We also found it really inspirational when planning the theme and designing the stationery. The food was great, and everyone had a good time. We got our own way on everything; even though some of the things we wanted were a bit different! On the day everything ran smoothly, even though things got a little bit behind early on (which was our fault, not theirs!)
Looking back there were so many highlights to the day. Chris enjoyed doing his speech, despite dreading it in the run up! He had a speech planned but scrapped it after he found the scrap book that I left for him the night before the wedding. I’d spent months on it, and it was full of photos, drawings and notes that covered all our years together. He ended up marking a few pages and going through that in his speech! I also loved seeing everyone get involved in the entertainment, with their faces painted, singing along to the Live Lounge Duo during the dinner and then to our first dance song before joining us on the dance floor.
For our honeymoon we did a self-guided tour of China. We crammed Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Guilin, Yangshuo and Hong Kong into two weeks! It was great, really interesting and exciting, which is what we like in a holiday, but it was very busy and exhausting! We’re not really beach people but I do wish we had planned just a few days somewhere relaxing at the end of the trip!
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be to do as much as you can yourself for the wedding. We personalised everything that we could. There was a lot to do, but we were so proud when it all came together. We also really enjoyed doing it all together in the run up to our big day.