Today’s elegant real wedding was arranged in just six months and perfectly illustrates the beauty of tying the knot in the winter season.
The couple, Lorna and Dave, had been together for more than five years before getting engaged. Briefly contemplating a beach wedding in the Caribbean sunshine, the couple couldn’t resist the allure of staying close to home and celebrating their big day at the magnificent Peckforton Castle.
Dressed in an off-the-shoulder, fluted fishtail gown, Lorna was every bit the fairy-tale princess.
With images from Jonny Draper Photography.
lorna says: We got engaged on 23rd May 2015, at Tre-Ysgawen Hall, Anglesey, Wales. At this point we had been together for more than five years, so I’d pretty much given up hope, but it turns out he was waiting for me to stop hinting so that it would come as a surprise. Dave had taken me away for the weekend and chosen Wales because of my Welsh roots. We enjoyed spa treatments on the Saturday and even joked in the Jacuzzi that Dave was rubbish at keeping secrets! Later that day, he got down on one knee in a lovely little meadow in the grounds of the hotel. I was so stunned he had to prompt me for a response as his knee was getting wet from the grass!
We tied the knot on Thursday 17th December 2015. We both wanted a winter wedding and weren’t concerned about the weather. We love Christmas time, so thought we could make the most of the gorgeous festive decorations at our venue, Peckforton Castle in Cheshire. We also first met on 17th January so there was certain symmetry to the date.
We got married in the Great Hall at Peckforton. Dave wanted to either wed on a beach in the Caribbean or in a castle. As I’m red head and not a huge fan of sand – the decision was quickly made! We looked at a number of other locations in and around Cheshire, but Peckforton was by far the most magical and perfect venue.
We both love to travel so our table names were places we had visited together and our table plan was a map of the world. We also had a vintage suitcase for our cards. For us, this signified that we had already been on many adventures, and that we are now embarking on another big adventure together into married life.
We tried to keep a personal touch throughout the wedding, with my sister designing our wedding invitations and other stationery, and my mum making the most fabulous snowflake wedding cake. Overall, we were going for an understated but elegant look.
Our colour scheme was dark purple. It’s a rich shade that stands out for a winter wedding and it also complemented the decor in the castle – and we both love the colour!
I found my perfect dress at Timeless Bride in Poynton, where Janine was just amazing. Nothing was too much trouble and I actually miss going there. My dress was a full-length, off-the-shoulder, fluted fishtail gown in duchess satin with tulle and vintage lace overlay. I wanted something quite elegant and fitting for a castle wedding – and I felt like a million dollars in it. I also had a full-length veil that draped to the end of my train. It was just perfect!
On the morning of the wedding stylist Clare, from Harry Jon, did my hair and makeup. We had a trial a few weeks earlier and she took the time to ensure I was happy with the look. She was lovely and great to spend the morning of my wedding with, and did an amazing job. She also helped me into my dress and sent me off with some advice I will never forget, “hold your head up, smile, this is your moment”.
Dave wore a three-piece tailor-made suit from Frank Rostron in Manchester. He must have had as many, if not more, fittings than me, and also visited more tailors than I did dress shops (this was one of the jokes in the best man’s speech!). He spent a lot of time choosing the fabric and, in the end, went for dark grey with a very subtle purple line through it. He also had his initials and the wedding date embroidered in the jacket and the tailor-made shirt. It was important for him to have a suit that fitted properly rather than off-the-peg.
My sister wore an off-the-shoulder dark purple Dessy bridesmaid dress from Ann’s Bridal in Leighton Buzzard, while my niece stole the show in a Jasper Conran flower girl dress from Debenhams. As for the groomsmen, they wore a three-piece grey suit from Moss Bros, Manchester. Our three nephews wore a trouser, waistcoat and shirt combo from Marks and Spencer in grey to match the men. My mum made them matching purple ties, too.
I was lucky enough to stay in the castle’s bridal suite the night before the wedding, so didn’t need transport on the day. Dave stayed just down the road at the Wild Boar Hotel and got a lift up to the castle with his best man.
Our photographer was the very talented Jonny Draper. When we first met, Jonny spent quite a while chatting with us about our day before he even showed us any photos. He was really enthusiastic about shooting our wedding and put us at ease, particularly as the photographs were an important part of the wedding for us. Our pre-wedding photo shoot was a great morning and gave us even more confidence in the wedding day itself. On the day, Jonny blended in to the background so well that we hardly noticed him and we weren’t dragged away from our guests for very long, but still got awesome photos.
I carried a hand-tied bouquet by Blossom Flowers, Chorlton. It was made up of aubergine and ivory calla lilies, cream avalanche roses and vintage dusky pink amnesia roses, surrounded by berried ivy.
We had table centres from Blossom Flowers that were aubergine and ivory calla lilies in tall vases, as well as a top table arrangement that included calla lilies, amnesia and avalanche roses, orchids and tulips.
Amy Janes Wedding Designs also provided ivory chair covers and purple sashes as well as candelabras for some of the tables, complete with mistletoe. We also provided more than 200 candles ourselves in the form of lanterns, hurricane lamps and various tea lights, which really added to our elegant and romantic feel.
My mum made our three-tier round wedding cake – one of the tiers was red velvet sponge and the other two were fruitcake. It was iced in white royal icing and decorated in sparkly snowflakes. She also made another chocolate cake in the shape of a castle with chocolates on top.
We had canapés with our drinks reception (with strict instructions to ensure the groom got some!). The wedding breakfast was a three-course meal consisting of chicken liver parfait and braised feather blade of beef followed by warm devil’s food cake. We then had turkey butties and potato wedges for the evening buffet.
As entertainment the Didsbury String Quartet played before and during our wedding ceremony and then afterwards during the drinks reception. They were excellent and even arranged specific songs that we wanted to include in our day.
We created a playlist for our wedding breakfast, which meant I had to put up with some of Dave’s country music, although some of it was quite romantic. We also created another playlist for The Wine Cellar where we had an after-party from midnight until 3am, with a few Christmas songs thrown in for good measure!
We must also mention is Hipswing Entertainments, who provided the DJ, sparkly dance floor and up-lighters in the Great Hall.
All throughout the wedding we tried to keep everything really personal, and involved as many family and friends in the wedding as we could. For example as a special touch, my cousin Samantha, read a speech at the end of the wedding breakfast from my uncle Paul, who wasn’t well enough to make the journey from Canada.
Following our wedding I would absolutely recommend our choice of venue! Peckforton Castle live and breathe weddings – it’s what they do, and they do it very well. The venue is stunning and speaks for itself and the entire day ran very smoothly. We were guided by a very efficient and friendly team, who seemed to genuinely care about our wedding.
We couldn’t pick a favourite part of the day – we loved all of it! The ceremony itself has to be up there as a highlight, as that’s the reason why we were there. I will never forget walking down the aisle in the Great Hall with my dad and seeing Dave turning around. Or Dave being the one to well up while saying his vows, rather than me (it had been me every time we practised!). The speeches were all incredible and the disco started off with a great first dance track – Brad Paisley with Then. I think that having all your friends and family there to celebrate with you is so overwhelming and it all still feels like the most amazing whirlwind.
For our honeymoon we went to Paradise Cove, Mauritius, just after Christmas. We were lucky enough to celebrate New Year out there with a gala dinner and fireworks. It was a very romantic and relaxing couple of weeks and a wonderful boutique hotel where nothing was too much trouble.
My advice to other Brides Up North is that it’s more than possible to organise a wedding in just six months, in a fabulous venue with amazing suppliers, especially if you can be flexible on the day of week you get married. Sometimes key dates in the summer may be booked but you could end up with rain anyway! The main thing is to remember what you are doing and why, and go from there. Don’t sweat the small stuff. I’m sure everyone says this, but the day will fly by so take time to take it all in, and enjoy every second.
Being married is amazing! Our relationship is even better now that we’re married. Dave thought things wouldn’t change much, but actually it just feels more solid and every kind of lovely.