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hessian & lace. maggie sottero for a rustic wedding in the north west – belinda & dan

11th October 2016 | Rachel Hirst

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Fans of relaxed rustic wedding styling prepare to take note, for the décor and details in this afternoon’s celebration are guaranteed to earn a place on your Pinterest board.

From hessian chair ties and cute bunting to natural log slices and twine-wrapped glass jars filled with wonderful wild blooms, Dan and Belinda’s big day has it all.

With images by Jonny Draper Photography.


belinda says: Dan proposed to me in front of Peel Tower on Holcombe Hill, on 15th March 2015. Dan knows that Holcombe Hill is my favourite place so knew it would have meaning for us to get engaged there. He asked my dad’s permission earlier in the day and then suggested we go for a Sunday evening walk. We got to the top of the hill and I started to take some photographs – when I turned around he was down on one knee with the ring in his hand. I cried for about 15 minutes before I remembered to actually say yes!

We set the date of the wedding for 1st April 2016. We had chosen this as our ‘official’ anniversary date of when we first got together (mainly so that Dan would never have an excuse to forget with it also being April Fool’s Day). The wedding fell on our fourth anniversary.


Our chosen venue was The Fisherman’s Retreat, in Shuttleworth, Lancashire. We wanted a venue where we would be able to see Holcombe Hill, and at The Fisherman’s you have the view of Holcombe Hill right from the spot you have the wedding ceremony so there was never really any other choices on the cards.


I’d describe the style of our wedding as rustic and natural! We just picked out things we liked the look of really – so lots of brown card, jars with twine, crates, log slices, wooden hearts, etc. This is just our taste in general so seemed the right thing to do!

We didn’t particularly have a colour scheme. We picked a heathery colour for the bridesmaid dresses and Dan’s tie and handkerchief (because I saw the colour on a Dessy swatch and it was the only one I liked) but apart from that we just had all different colours of wild flowers, and then the rustic details in between.


I wore a Maggie Sottero dress called Cassidy, which I got from The Bridal Lounge, in Accrington. I actually only chose it six weeks before the wedding as I had a total change of heart about the first dress I had chosen from another bridal shop. Lee at the Bridal Lounge turned everything round within the time frame and made sure I had the perfect dress on the day. I teamed my dress with a long veil and wore bright red heels as a surprise for Dan (had to get a little nod to Liverpool FC in somewhere as I had refused it on every other thing he’d suggested!)


Dan and the groomsmen wore black tails, which we hired from Novak in Rawtenstall, while the bridesmaids wore long dresses ordered from Dessy.

Flossy & Leigh took care of mine, the bridesmaids’ and both the mums’ hair and makeup on the morning of the wedding. We absolutely loved the experience and Phoebe and Alison are the loveliest people who I now call friends.


As a surprise for the journey to the venue my parents hired a 1920’s style Bramwith car from Classic Wedding Cars. It took my mum and the bridesmaids to The Fisherman’s Retreat first and then came back for me and my dad.


Jonny Draper was our photographer and we would definitely recommend him! I never even looked at anybody else and will now class him as our family photographer for any big events that may be coming up in the future.


For my wedding bouquet, I carried a mixture of wild flowers in pinks, blues and purples. The flowers were provided by Wild & Wondrous Flowers in Blackrod, who also provided the wild flowers used to decorate the venue, which were a mixture of different colours and textures.


Brides Little Helper made our place cards and provided further room dressing in the form of two blossom trees and crates with a rustic light-up ‘Mr & Mrs’ on.


I myself got involved in some of the stationery elements of the wedding. I made our invitations using woodgrain effect outer cards from Envelopments.com and individual inserts with all the details. I also made the save the dates (magnet wood slices) and stamped them with a personalised heart stamp made by Stamp Couture on Etsy, featuring our initials and the date. All the fonts matched and we used the heart stamp as a motif for the rest of the wedding. I really enjoyed this part of it all and loved that we had so many personal touches that made it feel like our day. This fact was also emphasised by my dad as the majority of his speech was about how into crafts I always was when growing up.


As favours we gave pin badges in memory of Dan’s dad Stuart, who passed away 11 years ago, which came from The Christie Hospital, who we made a donation to. The badges were on everyone’s name card with a message for Stuart on the back. A mention was made by Dan’s brother in his speech about the meaning of them and he asked everyone if they would wear them, not only in memory of Stuart, but of any friends or family they were thinking of too.

As another special touch I bought Dan an antique pocket watch for the morning of the wedding – something he had been wanting for some time. I had written him a card and also put a little photograph of his dad in the back of the watch so he would have him with him throughout the day. I’d hid the watch in advance and let Dan’s best man know where it was so he could give it to him when Jonny was there to capture his reaction on camera.


Our wedding cake was supplied by Cake Craft of Ramsbottom. We chose a very simple design and had it decorated with ferns and wild flowers by Wild & Wondrous. It was lemon sponge and vanilla sponge.

For the wedding breakfast we had a three-course meal consisting of a choice of prawn cocktail or melon to start, sausage and mash or chicken and vegetables for main and lemon posset or profiteroles for dessert.


To provide entertainment throughout the wedding we hired Andy Murphy as our MC and DJ. He had been highly recommended to us and we are so glad we had him at our wedding. We also had entertainment in the evening provided my magician by Sam Fitton. His magic amazed all of our guests and gave us some fab photo opportunities.

Instead of having a regular guest book at the reception, we chose to have a finger print tree instead. It is now framed and in pride of place in our dining room so we can look at it every day. Another keepsake from the day is a personal ring box which my nephews carried down the aisle for us. Alyson of Made by Tree created it for us and we now use it as a candle holder, which features our names and wedding date.


After our wedding celebrations we would definitely recommend The Fisherman’s Retreat to other couples. Nothing was too much trouble and the day ran like a military operation – I have never seen food come out to tables with such precision, with no excessive waiting and all orders correct! Stephanie the wedding co-ordinator is lovely and knows her job inside out. In addition, the owner Hervey, personally picked me and Dan up at the end of the night, took us to the lodges which they have (including a bridal suite) just down the road from the venue and then cooked us a fantastic breakfast (made to order) in the morning. He’s such a lovely guy who was genuinely interested in hearing about how much we had enjoyed our day and made the morning after that little bit more special.


Looking back at the day there were some really special stand out moments. I loved the moment when my dad saw me for the first time and also walking down the aisle. Two elements I have been dreaming about for years and years. Another favourite moment was walking back down the aisle after we were married. After refusing anything else Liverpool FC related I backed down and let Dan have You’ll Never Walk Alone playing as we walked out. I was really nervous about it but it actually worked really well and made us relax and have a giggle together.


Straight after the wedding we went to the Lake District for a one-week minimoon and then the main honeymoon to Santorini, Greece, followed in June. It was the most amazing time of our lives. We stayed in a 5-star boutique hotel, in a honeymoon suite with our own private pool and felt like royalty for a week. The hotel (Petit Palace) overlooks the caldera and is built on the side of a cliff so the view is the most breath-taking and romantic sight we have ever seen. We cannot wait to go back!


My top tip to other Brides Up North would be not to worry about how every little detail is going to come together on the day. It will all be fine. I was really proud that I let everything go over my head on the day and literally enjoyed every single second (I usually get anxious and worried about things). During the build-up I did worry how the colours of everything were going to look together and how people would know where to go and what would happen when. But the co-ordinators and everyone else involved do all that worrying for you so there is literally no need at all to have any sleepless nights about it!

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