true chemistry. a fairy-tale wedding in durham city – michelle & anthony

Alexis Forsyth

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Today, we’re escaping to beautiful Durham City for a vintage inspired wedding that celebrates all those wonderful bridal traditions we often find ourselves daydreaming about.

The couple – Michelle and Anthony – created a special day brimming with understated elegance – we’re talking an ivory and sage green palette, 1920s cars, beautifully decorated candelabras and exquisite floral arrangements. Just look at the bride’s pretty gown and we promise you’ll be swept away by their captivating fairy-tale theme.

With images by Teardrop Photography

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michelle says:

After five years together, we got engaged on 15th July 2015, in Santa Ponsa, Spain. We went for a posh meal at a cliff-side restaurant followed by a stroll along the beach. The sun was just beginning to set and I remember thinking to myself how romantic it was – we stopped to admire the view and when I turned around Anthony was down on one knee asking me to marry him…and, of course, I said yes! Anthony had picked the most beautiful engagement ring with the help from the staff at ROX Newcastle.

Our special day was Saturday 27th August 2016. We wanted a summer wedding and it fell perfectly on the Bank Holiday weekend. We were very fortunate with the weather as the sun kept shining all day long!

We were married at St. Patrick’s RC Church, Langley Moor. I had always dreamt of being married in church and this church has a special meaning to Anthony as he went to the neighbouring catholic school. The church was breathtakingly beautiful without the need for accessories and decoration.

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Our wedding breakfast through to evening reception was at St. Mary’s College in the heart of Durham city. This venue is primarily used for Durham University students and we had to seek permission to hold our wedding at this prestigious building with its ornate great hall and lavish landscaped grounds. My grandad was a Professor of Chemistry at the University and his ongoing involvement enabled us to be granted approval.

Our wedding day embraced fairy-tale romantic elegance, which included many bridal traditions. Anthony and I had the wedding rehearsal a few days before the big day then did not see each other until my dad walked me down the aisle on our magical day to the traditional Bridal March played by our organist. I incorporated the “something old, something new…” tradition as I wore my mam’s blue garter (which she wore on her wedding day 27 years ago) along with wearing a matching earring and necklace set which I borrowed from my mother-in-law. We also greeted each and every guest by doing a “line up” which gave our reception a personal feel and took the time to welcome and thank all our loved ones for sharing our special day with us. Another tradition I embraced was that my cousin Emma, who was also one of my bridesmaids, wore my engagement ring until after our ceremony – and not forgetting Anthony carrying me over the threshold of our new home the following day!

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Our wedding colour scheme was a mixture of sage green with ivory, we opted for very natural colours which matched perfectly with the foliage and flowers we used to decorate most of the venue.

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When I first started looking at wedding dresses, I had a completely different style of what I would like in mind. I originally wanted lots of lace with sleeves – completely different to the wedding dress I chose in the end! As soon as I tried on my fairy-tale princess style gown, with my full-length veil and tiara, I fell in love with it and knew instantly it was ‘the one’. This was then confirmed as I walked out of the fitting room and my mum and mother-in-law were in tears! It was such an emotional experience and I think all brides will agree this is one of the most special moments of the whole wedding process.

I got my wedding dress from Alice Elizabeth, a local boutique bridal shop in Coxhoe. The owner and dress maker Heather, and bridal consultant, Anne-Marie were truly amazing from the moment I walked through the door to find my dress, even to the moment I was just about to walk down the aisle! Heather surprised me and was waiting outside the church on my special day to give me a good luck hug and ensured my dress and veil was looking incredible! I was blown away by this touching moment! I couldn’t recommend Alice Elizabeth enough – they transformed my dream dress into a reality and I will be forever grateful to them both.

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Anthony wore a three-piece steel blue tailored suit with an ivory cravat and handkerchief, which matched the colour of my dress. Anthony’s suit – along with all the groomsmen’s suits – was hired from Just Perfect, Shotton. The service provided was fantastic; all the suits looked brand new and were tailored to fit everyone perfectly. It was definitely value for money and they do various deals – as we were hiring seven suits, Anthony got his suit hire for free.

Our groomsmen party included two best men, two ushers, father-of-the-bride and father-of-the-groom. They all wore matching suits to Anthony but we incorporated the sage green colour and their cravats and handkerchiefs were made out of the same material as the bridesmaids’ dresses.

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My four bridesmaids looked incredible in their Sorella Vita dresses; the shade we chose was ‘evergreen’. We also purchased the dresses from Just Perfect . They all wore ivory satin shoes from the Debut bridal range in Debenhams. As all the bridesmaids were different heights, some wanted extra height, others didn’t – I would definitely recommend this footwear range as the same style shoe comes with or without heels and kept within our budget!

Myself, the bridesmaids and my mum all got our hair done by the amazingly talented team at The Salon – Langley Park. They have fantastic ideas and helped give the morning of my wedding a special touch by having arrival drinks and banners on display. We were all wearing our matching pyjamas! The team couldn’t have been any more helpful when attending trials for mine and my bridesmaids’ hair in the lead up to the big day! I would certainly recommend them to any bride wanting a professional and trustworthy service.

In addition to this, my cousin Charlene – who is a makeup artist – did mine and my bridesmaids’ makeup – she did a fabulous job and she knows I will be eternally grateful to her for offering to do this.

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We certainly travelled in style on our wedding day – we had two 1920s vintage style white imperial viscount cars, supplied by Crozier Wedding Cars. The drivers were fantastic – helping with my dress and gave the experience of driving to and from the church a special touch. Anthony and the groomsmen got ready and were collected from his parents’ house. Bridesmaids, my parents and I got ready and left from my parents’ house. It was a profound moment leaving from my family home with my dad, unbeknown to me the neighbours had all lined the street and waved us off! After the ceremony, Anthony and I then were drove to St. Marys College – the venue has a spectacular driveway lined with beautiful flowers and trees; it was a wow moment driving down this to meet our guests with the roof down on the car sipping champagne!

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Our photographer was Darren Facinelli, from Teardrop Photography. We are completely blown away by how truly amazing the photos are! We can’t thank Darren enough for capturing the memories from our magical day. From the first meeting, he made us feel at ease and was very informal which, we felt, was important when you aren’t used to posing for photographs! We did a pre-wedding photoshoot around Durham River, which we would recommend doing as this helps you to feel relaxed and comfortable with your photographer but also with each other posing and we got some fabulous photos! Nothing was too much for Darren – he is very professional and even with a wedding party and families as big as ours he was so patient! We got some phenomenal shots – very imaginative and romantic!

David of Real Life Films videoed our whole day, the creativity and quality of the wedding video is incredible, we are truly grateful to him for capturing such special moments from our day. I could honestly watch the DVD every day! Both the photographer and videographer were so skilled and discreet yet able to shoot the hilarious dance moves, the emotional reveal to my dad and bridesmaids along with the ceremony itself, even down to the tears and laughter from our guests during the speeches! I think people will agree that a wonderful photographer and videographer are priceless.

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Flowers by Michell, Coxhoe supplied all our flowers, centrepieces and chair covers. My bouquet was a work of art; medium sized with a selection of ivory roses, gypsophila, lily of the valley and added natural foliage and herbs. This was all bound together with material from my actual dress and diamanté pins. The colours not only complemented my wedding dress but paired with Anthony’s suit colour perfectly as well as the bridesmaids’ dresses. My bridesmaids all carried bouquets of gypsophila; this was a simple but elegant choice. Many people commented on how effective it looked. Anthony’s buttonhole was very similar to my bouquet with the groomsmen and other guests wearing a single ivory rose with gypsophila. The florist was excellent at designing different styles as both mams wanted buttonholes on magnets which then transformed into corsages for their wrists.

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Flowers by Michell helped to decorate the venue too; they set up all the chairs and centrepieces the day before and then delivered and arranged all the fresh flower displays on the morning of the wedding. We were blown away by how amazing the venue looked! They did an immaculate job. On the top table we had a large spray of ivory roses, lily of the valley, sage, ivory and additional foliage to complement our colour scheme. Our centrepieces comprised large silver candelabras with ivory and gypsophila twisted around it, these looked so effective especially when the candles were lit. Our chair covers were white with added sage green sash tied into a bow.

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We had Yankee Candle ‘wedding day’ favours for the women, scratch cards for the men and custom made colouring books for the children. Both our mams finished off the favours, putting candles into organza bags with ribbons and creating the folders and envelopes for the scratch cards. A supplier from eBay made the colouring books.

We opted for subtle simplicity with our wedding cake. We ordered a four-tiered cake from M&S, which the catering team set up and our florist decorated the cake with flowers similar to my bouquet. We didn’t want to spend a fortune on a wedding cake and this suited us perfectly!

Following an impressive wedding breakfast taster session, we chose leek and potato soup with herb dumplings to start; daube of beef, potatoes and vegetables for our main course, followed by a delicious white chocolate and strawberry cheesecake for dessert. The food was unbelievable and cooked to perfection!  The evening buffet included roast beef and pulled pork baguettes with various accompaniments. St. Mary’s College allowed us to bring our own drinks and we paid a corkage fee, this gave us freedom to choose what we wanted. We had prosecco with raspberries for our reception drink along with a bottle bar in the courtyard, we then provided guests with white and red wines followed by champagne for the toast.

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We used James Entertainment for our evening disco. They also provided a sparkling white curtained backdrop, which we had behind the top table throughout the day and then behind the DJ booth on the evening.  We also hired large ‘love’ letters for the day along with green uplighters for the evening reception which transformed the room and gave it a real party atmosphere.  A top tip – don’t be afraid to give your DJ a strict playlist, it is your wedding day after all and no one wants an empty dancefloor!

As for special toucheson the morning, Anthony and I opened a letter and gifts to each other – this was such a personal and very emotional moment that I will cherish forever. I also kept my wedding dress a secret from my bridesmaids – I’m so pleased I did this as the moment we saw each other all ready was truly unforgettable. We had a guest book and signed photo frame that are both treasured keepsakes, too!

We used paperlovecards.com for our invitations and save the date cards – I would thoroughly recommend these as they supplied a beautiful product with our own designs and at a competitive price. We also used Memories & Giggles, a local company for our photo booth that our guests loved and we received an album afterwards with all the prints.

We also made our own sweet table; we kept the cost to a minimum but created an effective stall for guests to enjoy a few treats! Along with this we made craft tables for the children which kept them entertained for hours!

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We have been asked about our favourite part of the day many times but always find it hard to answer, as from start to finish the whole day was absolutely perfect – better than we could ever have imagined!

One special moment to mention though – following our first dance as husband and wife to James Bay’s Running, it was my turn to dance with my dad. My dad had kept the song choice a surprise and I was blown away with emotion when the special song my late Grandad Les used to sing to me started to play, Elvis Can’t Help Falling in Love. It was a moment I’ll never forget as the whole room started swaying and singing along.

For our honeymoon we went to Antigua in the Caribbean for two weeks. It was completely beyond our expectations, a paradise island where we were treated like royalty – even getting upgraded to first class travel! We booked with Kuoni Travel who ensured our tailor-made honeymoon was perfect!

Our biggest tip for other Brides Up North would be to remember to keep taking everything in on the day as you have spent so much time organising your special day and it goes so fast! Remember to spend time as a couple too!  Also, don’t worry and stress about the tiny details and timings of the day as on the day all this becomes irrelevant. All that mattered was me and my new husband, and sharing our day with all our family and friends. We were overwhelmed at everyone’s happiness at seeing us both so happy and in love.

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