Real Weddings

truly timeless. a black tie wedding at rudding park, harrogate – thais & james

05th December 2016 | Laura McDonagh

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Carrying on the glamour from earlier today, this afternoon’s real wedding is a seriously classy affair. Thais and James opted for a black-tie dress code, an all-white colour scheme and a frothy dream of a dress.

After a long-distance relationship across the Atlantic and a romantic airport proposal, they were finally married in the stunning 19th Century chapel at Harrogate’s Rudding Park.

This gorgeous couple simply exude elegance, sophistication and more than a dash of movie star glamour.

With images by Barber Photography


thais says: We were engaged in December 2013. So much of our lives were spent in airports with our relationship being long-distance between the UK and USA, so it made sense for James to propose in one. We were actually on the same flight coming back from NY to Myrtle Beach, with James’ mum. However, James had planned ahead of time and, with a little help, was waiting, ring in hand, balloons spelling ‘marry me?’ and For the First Time by The Script playing in the background as I came down the escalators. Someone captured the whole thing on video (see here – you can also see a shortened version on our wedding website!)

We decided to get married on 10th October 2015, exactly five years after the day we went on our first date (coincidentally all the 10s – 10/10/10!)


Our venue was Rudding Park in Harrogate. Aside from the fact that it’s an absolutely stunning venue, the staff were amazing throughout the whole process and it was only 30 minutes from James’ hometown. They also had a chapel in the grounds, which we wanted to avoid extra travel for our guests who were travelling and to preserve the fluidity of the day.

Theme-wise, we went for a black tie, formal dress code. We wanted the day to be classic, timeless and elegant. For the decor, we went all-white. Again, we wanted a chic and elegant look.


My dress was from Gown Boutique of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina. I had no idea what kind of dress I wanted, but when I tried it on I just knew it was the one.

James wore a classic Calvin Klein black tuxedo – again, timeless!

My bridesmaids all wore long, black dresses from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The groomsmen donned black tuxedos from a store in Leeds.


Our photographers were Phil and Lou Barber of Barber Photography. They’re a fantastic husband and wife team and we’d recommend them highly. They were so professional and made us feel very comfortable, both for the engagement shoot and the day of the wedding. The end products were also amazing. All their products were beyond our expectations!

Our flowers were incredible and put together by the fabulous Leafy Couture. I carried a bouquet of red roses, which was absolutely stunning. We would highly recommend our florist, Sarah Richardson, and the ‘Leafy girls’. They truly made our wedding come to life.

At the venue, Leafy Couture set up everything in terms of floral decorations. We had a mixture of all white flowers, which included roses, calla lilies, orchids, stocks, dahlias, carnations and hydrangeas. The table arrangements were so beautiful.


For favours, we gave guests a bottle of wine, red or white. The bottle was personalised with a picture from our engagement shoot!

We had a modern, white round vanilla wedding cake with chocolate filling. It was made by a private baker, Lesley Kay from Wetherby.

For the wedding breakfast, we gave our guests three options. For the starter, they could opt for French onion soup, pork rillette or king curried scallops. For the main meal, there was a choice of roast chicken breast with onion and blue cheese gnocchi, beef medallion, braised oxtail and spinach or roast monkfish and saffron fondant. For dessert, there was sticky toffee pudding, passion fruit crème brûlée or hot chocolate and brownie. Delicious!


We chose the DJ services from Harrogate Wedding Hire for our evening entertainment. In a break with tradition, I opted against a bouquet toss and presented my roses to the longest married couple instead. We had all the married couples come to the dance floor and, throughout the dance, had the DJ ask couples to leave the dance floor depending on the length of their marriage. He went up in increments of five years, 10 years and so on until the last couple remained. Then I presented my bouquet to the ‘last couple standing’.


Rudding Park went above and beyond all our expectations. We couldn’t have chosen a more perfect venue and would definitely recommend the place to other couples.


Looking  back, my favourite part of the day was undoubtedly the exchange of vows. The chapel was built in the 1800s and absolutely breath-taking. It was so important to share our vows and commitment to one another in front of our families, friends and God. It was also a very special moment when James’ grandparents (the last surviving from both sides) presented us with our wedding bands.


For our honeymoon, we travelled to Rome. We were blown away by its beauty and history, and we stayed in a hotel a stone’s throw from The Colosseum. It was fantastic to experience Rome and the Vatican together. And don’t even get me started on the food!


My top tip to other Brides Up North would be – try your best to soak up every single second of the day and just live in the moment. It will pass before you know it.

the big picture

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