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laidback love. a fun & rustic wedding at haslington hall – stevie & christopher

17th November 2016 | Laura McDonagh

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Today’s real wedding is a feast for the eyes. There was a sumptuous naked cake, bucket loads of petal confetti and plenty of fun and frolics in the venue’s jaw-dropping grounds.

Flowers were key in creating the bride’s rustic theme and reflecting her outdoorsy lifestyle, with Stevie donning a floral crown and the couple exchanging vows below a stunning wildflower arch.

If you adore all things laidback and lovey-dovey, this one’s definitely for you.

Photography by Brides Up North Sponsor, ER Photography.


stevie says: We got engaged at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – our favourite place – in August 2014. Christopher woke me up on our last morning with my Grandma Betty’s engagement ring and both of us were in tears by the time he’d got to “Will you marry me?”

We arranged our wedding for 23rd July 2016. We wanted an outdoor wedding and hoped that July would do it weather-wise!


Our venue was the beautiful Haslington Hall, in Crewe. We chose our venue as it was an enormous and totally gorgeous Tudor hall (Christopher is doing a history PhD), and it had a marquee which I wanted for the wedding breakfast, plus it had beautiful grounds too. What really swayed it was that the wedding coordinator at the time (Sian Hopwood) was extremely friendly and laid-back about all of our arrangements. She was enthusiastic about having an outdoor ceremony, coming up with a vegetarian menu with two options per course and possibly even involving my little horse, Galaxy.

Our theme was rustic, relaxed and fun – just like the two of us! We wanted a country-style wedding to match my horsey lifestyle with plenty of wildflowers but at the same time wanted to maximise the fun for our guests (we’re big children at heart) with a sweetie table, photo booth and plenty of games, including space hoppers (adult and child-sized), bubbles, wind-up toys and lots of outdoor games.

Our colour scheme of pastel tones was rustic-inspired. We weren’t particularly fussed about specific shades as long as they were natural – the more varied the better!


I always wanted to look like a princess on my wedding day with classic lace and sparkles but didn’t want to pay an extortionate price for a custom-made dress. After trying on all sorts of gowns from slinky, tight-fitting numbers to full-on ball gowns all over the country we found a bridal outlet shop two streets away from us, The Wedding Dress & Prom Dress Outlet, Stockport. I settled on a gorgeous ivory A-line gown that was everything I wanted; it even drew a genuine ‘wow’ from one of my maids of honour. This was paired with an absolutely stunning pastel wildflower crown from Flowers by Briege and a cathedral length veil with small lace/sparkle appliques from Boutique Alterations, where I had my dress fitted. I bought some beautiful ivory heels with pearl ankle ties from Amazon for the day and some squashy ivory slippers from John Lewis for the evening – this turned out to be a very good idea indeed!

Sarah Meredith was my incredible hair and makeup artist on the day of the wedding. She understood that my bridesmaids and I wanted a natural look and made us feel so relaxed on the morning of the big day. She was extremely creative, even weaving leftover flowers into the bridesmaids’ hair.


To fit our country theme, Christopher bought a beautiful dark blue Ted Baker tweed suit from Slaters, Manchester, teaming it with a pastel blue cravat and brown shoes.

We let the bridesmaids and groomsmen have free reign over their outfits and choose any colour or style they wanted. My four bridesmaids settled on three different shades/styles of pastel blue dresses and a very dapper black suit and blue shirt for the fourth bridesmaid, Emily. She had the most awesome blue and grey brogues too!

Our groomsmen wore different shades blue and grey, all with a pastel blue tie or cravat.  The groomsmen also wore different superhero cufflinks as the heroes of the day.


Our photographers were ER Photography and we can’t recommend them highly enough. They were so laid back and funny and took the most gorgeous, natural shots. They were considerate of our budget and really gave us value for money. The photos that we received are just stunning: lots of sneaky natural shots which came out wonderfully. We have more than 1,000 photos and I think I’m smiling in every one!

We also wanted a video and Simply Wedding Videos provided two brilliant videographers. Naomi followed the bridal party and was a joy to be around – professional whilst also being a lovely person. Richard was extremely friendly, supportive and open to our suggestions. When he left near the end of the day, he let us know that Naomi was staying for the dancing but he was off to have surgery! We would never have expected him to film the day if we’d known this and just goes to show his professional attitude.


Our wedding flowers were the talk of the day, especially the amazing wildflower arch for the ceremony created by the wonderful Flowers by Breige. Breige completely understood my brief of natural, pastel wildflowers and fashioned the bouquets, buttonholes, my flower crown and the arch to absolute perfection. They were better than anything I could have imagined!

All of the decorations and flowers for our reception were either made or bought by us. Christopher and I had been making bunting for a good six months running up to the wedding and every time one of my bridesmaids visited they were invited to the bunting workshop. My wonderful mum made cookie place-names for each guest and bought all of the favours and flowers (from Tesco) for the table decorations, which myself and the bridesmaids arranged in jam jars on little log slices. We also ordered real petal confetti mix from Shropshire Petals which threw beautifully and smelled delicious!


In addition to the cookies made by my mum, each table enjoyed a plethora of wind-up toys, bubbles and a disposable camera. We also had a photo booth by Passport to Fun that provided snaps to our guests for free and a sweetie table with veggie-friendly sweets and chocolates.

We had an amazing four-tier naked cake by Happy Days Cakes. Our brief was to make it look very natural, dripping with fresh summer berries and stuffed to the brim with buttercream. We wanted a cake that made us want to dig in with a big spoon as soon as we saw it, and we certainly got that – it was delicious! They also made us a tiny gluten-free version for our coeliac guests.


Christopher and I are vegetarians and we wanted to feel we’d made ethical choices with our wedding breakfast. With the help of the brilliant freelance chef Brian Eccles, we created a vegetarian menu with two options per course: a safe option for the veggie-wary and a more exotic option for veggie-friendly guests. This worked out really well with many of the guests opting for our safe options of a twice-baked cheese soufflé, a good old pie with proper pork-pie style pastry, tarted up with halloumi, roasted red peppers and picked walnuts and the best crème brulee we’ve ever tasted. The more exotic options were an amazing fresh summer gazpacho with a basil sorbet, a spiced Moroccan tagine and a ‘trio of the chef’s mini chocolate delights’! It was all completely delicious and the chef presented each plate as if it had come from a Michelin-starred restaurant.


In terms of the entertainment, we’re incredibly fortunate in that one of our family friends, Becky Mcilroy, is an extremely talented harpist and played throughout our ceremony. I walked down the aisle to Once upon a Dream from Sleeping Beauty. In the evening we had the charismatic DJ Michael Spencer who made sure the dancefloor was filled for every song all night. I was glad I wore slippers: I danced the entire night away!

Entertainment-wise, we just wanted the whole day to be extremely relaxed and fun. We had lots of space hopper tournaments across the grounds (even I got involved at one point, although promptly fell off four bounces in!) and encouraged guests to make full use of the garden games: Frisbees, croquet sets etc.


In addition to a guest book, we had a ‘tree of advice’ at the reception, where guests wrote words of wisdom on little wooden hearts and hung them on a big white tree. My favourite piece of advice was, “Always talk through every conflict before deciding that Stevie is right.”


We must give a little mention to Cheshire Registry Office for providing our lovely registrar, Julie, who was extremely relaxed about us having an outdoor ceremony and finalising the legal details in the licensed area of the venue. She brought along copies of our readings which was lucky as we had forgotten them!

We got such lovely comments about our readings which were a spoken word version of ‘Everything is Great’ from the Muppets, an edited version of Edward Monkton’s ‘A Lovely Love Story’ and ‘Your Personal Penguin’, read by nine-year-old Anfi.


Looking back it’s so hard to choose one moment of the day as my favourite as the whole wedding was just perfect: the ceremony, the first kiss, messing about for photos, dancing in the middle of an assembled Hokey Cokey of guests. However, there was a moment just as I was walking down the aisle when the sun peeked out through the clouds and everything was bathed in warmth and light. It felt like a sign that we were about to have the perfect day. And do you know what? We did!

The only element that was missed on the day was that I had originally wanted my little horse, Galaxy, to attend the wedding but, due to a combination of probable stress and some guest allergies, we decided against it. Instead, we had an amazing photo shoot with her shortly after the wedding with our fantastic wedding photographers. She was so well behaved and wasn’t the slightest bit anxious about my massive dress even when I got stuck trying to hop aboard!


We went on our honeymoon a few months after the wedding to give us some time together at home as husband and wife. First, we popped to Barcelona for a few nights and were wowed by the amazing architecture and delicious churros; then we had an amazing week in Sardinia full of delicious food, sunbathing and the best ice cream you can imagine.


My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to do whatever makes you happy; whether it be silly games, naming the tables after the cities from Pokémon (our top table was ‘Victory Road’), specific food or cheesy songs on the dancefloor. Do it! It’s your wedding!

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