Today on the blog, we’re stepping back in time with Rachel and Harry as they tie the knot at the medieval Skipton Castle in Yorkshire.
After 10 years together – Rachel awoke from her slumber one day to find an engagement ring on her finger; the definition of a dream come true if ever we saw one!
Their wedding was just as dreamy, with wildflowers, pretty pastels, a classic Bentley and a gorgeous three-tiered cake, not to mention a subtle nod to all things art deco. Read on for all the exquisite details…
With images by Bethany Clarke
rachel says: We had been together for 10 years before we got engaged and always joked that there was no point in Harry proposing as he knew I would say yes, so we may as well skip the engagement and just get married. In the early hours of 31st August 2015 Harry popped the most beautiful sapphire and diamond ring on my finger while I was asleep! Obviously, it was a wonderful surprise to wake up to, and Harry had spent hours nervously waiting for me to be in a deep enough sleep to put the ring on.
We got married on 23rd July 2016. We knew that we wanted a summer wedding and the venue we wanted only had a few weekends left and this date worked the best for us.
We tied the knot at Skipton Castle. We are both really interested in history and love visiting heritage sites and museums. We had visited Skipton Castle together a few times and always had a lot of fun there so it was really exciting to find out that they actually hold weddings there too! Of course, I wanted the whole fairytale princess in a castle vibe too! We had visited a few other venues but Skipton Castle just felt so special to us, everyone that works there is so lovely and genuinely wanted us to have the best day; they really put us at ease and made our wedding super special.
We wanted to have a really casual and fun wedding. It was quite small and intimate, we didn’t have a seating plan or anything like that, we just wanted everyone to mingle and have a great time.
I wouldn’t say we had a particular theme but due to our own personal styles there was a bit of a vintage feel to the day – my dress was 1920s inspired, we had a classic Bentley and wild flowers everywhere. It’s hard not to get swept up when you’re getting married in a medieval castle!
We didn’t have a colour scheme; everything was quite neutral. We had a range of different colours in our flowers and these were the only real colours on the day, at the castle and later at our reception venue too. We matched the car and the cake to the bridesmaid’s pale grey dress as it was important to us that everything looked quite minimal.
I wore a Maggie Sottero dress from Abigail’s Bridal Boutique. Looking through bridal magazines and blogs I fell in love with Maggie Sottero’s designs and I discovered that Abigail’s Bridal Boutique is one of the few shops in Leeds that stock this brand. I tried on a handful of dresses but as soon as I put on ‘Ettia’ I knew that was the dress for me. It was everything I had ever dreamed of in a wedding dress and the lovely ladies at Abigail’s had to coax me out of it in the end as I didn’t want to take it off. I paired it with a cathedral length, Swarovski trimmed veil and an art deco headpiece – I felt like a princess.
We hired a classic S-type Bentley from Classic and Vintage Travel in Harrogate. The car was incredible and the driver was so wonderfully friendly and surprised us with a bottle of Champagne after the ceremony. He drove us out to a lovely area of greenery in Skipton and we drank some Champagne and enjoyed a few minutes to ourselves before driving to the reception. It was such a special moment and we were so grateful to the driver for suggesting it.
Our photographer was Bethany Clarke. We did a lot of research and found Bethany’s portfolio to be outstanding. We really liked the fact that she seemed to be very relaxed and spontaneous. She got a lot of beautiful candid shots but also brought us away to take some lovely portraits. During the ceremony I didn’t even realise that she was in the room, she captured some lovely moments without being distracting and really made us feel so comfortable and put us at ease. It felt like a friend taking photographs rather than someone we had never met before. We really liked that she communicated with us a lot before the wedding and helped us to put together a list of group shots, so that on the day she knew exactly what we wanted.
I carried a bouquet from Natasha Coustol Floral Designs. It was a natural rustic posy bouquet and included a range of different textured pastel flowers and a few vibrant varieties with plenty of greenery and succulents. The pew ends and centre-pieces were made up of the same types of flowers and Harry had a blue thistle with a touch of small pastel flowers.
Our florist, Natasha Coustol, had installed all of the flowers in the castle. Our reception venue was only five minutes away so our guests took down all of the flowers and carried them across for us, we then had all the flowers arranged on the cake display table to give it a rustic feel.
We gave out beer mats as favours, we designed them ourselves and they had our names and wedding date on them.
Our cake was made by Fanticy in Skipton. We sat down with them and designed the cake together, it was three tiers (chocolate, lemon and fruit) and covered in textured iced petals with a pale grey ombre effect.
After the ceremony, we had a Champagne and canapé reception, which was provided by GFS Catering. We wanted a Yorkshire feel to the canapés so decided on mini burgers and mini fish and chips. For the reception, we wanted a relaxed feel and didn’t want a proper sit down meal. The team at Napiers were so amazing and provided us with a tapas style meal with pizzas, charcuterie boards and wonderful meats, cheeses and breads. We felt that the sharing style food really got people talking and mixing with one another.
We didn’t have any entertainment, instead we put together a playlist of our favourite songs. We also asked each guest to provide a song that they would like to be played so when the evening came we knew everyone would enjoy at least one song!
Harry had a very special bridesmaid in the form of his family dog Scout, we were so happy that she could be at the wedding.
I would recommend Skipton Castle as it is such a unique venue. The team there are so wonderful and go through absolutely everything with you in fine detail. They put together an itinerary for us and they organised a rehearsal for us the day before so everyone knew what they were doing. They all seemed genuinely happy for us and nothing was too much for them, the wedding planner even advised me on the best way to walk down the aisle without getting my heels caught in between the ancient floorboards!
Our favourite part of the day was the feelings of love and happiness that we got from everyone. There was a moment just after we were married and we had just signed the marriage certificate, we looked out at the sea of smiling faces and it was so overwhelming and special to see so many of our friends and family gathered in one place to share such a happy day with us.
We went to Hong Kong and Borneo for our honeymoon. We spent a few days in Hong Kong sightseeing and eating the most incredible food and then flew out to Borneo. We spent a few days relaxing at Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort & Spa and then made a trip to an Orangutan and Sun Bear sanctuary before staying at Abai Jungle Lodge on the Kinabatangan River. The peace and tranquility we experienced was out of this world and being awoken by the sounds of insects every morning was brilliant. Everything was planned to perfection, with a mix of early morning / evening boat trips and jungle walks to spot wildlife. We were so lucky to see wild orangutans, plenty of macaques, proboscis monkeys, crocodiles, fireflies, monitor lizards and a huge range of birds and insects. The most memorable moment of our whole honeymoon was when all the incredible staff at Abai Jungle Lodge sat us at a separate romantically decorated table and serenaded us with a special song to celebrate our marriage, they also presented us with a ‘Congratulations’ cake and got everybody up to dance. After our jungle adventure we then moved on to Gaya Island resort for some much needed rest and relaxation.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be: remember that planning a wedding is fun! Try not to get stressed out and treat it like a special project between you and your partner. We did everything together (except for the wedding dress shopping!) and had a lot of fun. Keep on top of everything by making yourselves some spreadsheets (you can find plenty of really useful templates online) it sounds silly but it was so useful to have different spreadsheets for itineraries, packing lists, budgets, vendor details etc.