When today’s bride Charlotte got in touch with us we were totally in awe of her strength, caring nature and beautiful big day. For in the run up to her wedding, Charlotte lost her best friend and maid of honour, Dawn Shepherd, to cancer. Determined to celebrate her beautiful friend’s life, Charlotte, worked alongside Dawn’s two young sons to incorporate fitting tributes to their mum into the wedding day.
Such special touches included a balloon release, personal poem reading and a donation to Cancer Research. Following the loss of best friend, Charlotte is also helping to raise funds to support Dawn’s two brave sons in the future. Further details of Dawn’s story and how to make a donation to the Dawn Shepherd Foundation can be found here.
As well as the friendship between Charlotte and Dawn, the big day, of course, also celebrated the love and friendship between Charlotte and Andy who incorporated a subtle Disney theme into the proceedings in a nod to their romantic Disney World engagement. And the two are set to return to the Magic Kingdom for their happily ever after honeymoon too! Charlotte tells us more…
With images by Daniel Murrientes Photography.
charlotte says: We were on holiday in Florida with our children (identical girls aged three and our little boy 15 months), when Andy proposed. We went for four weeks and it happened on a Sunday at the start of our third week at Magic Kingdom. Andy asked if we wanted to have a photo in front of the castle so I said yes, and then as I was sorting the children out he got down on one knee and a photographer captured it all. It was my perfect proposal.
We got married on 9th April 2017. Both being teachers we wanted it to be in a school holiday and April seemed perfect for us and fitted with everyone else.
Our ceremony was held at St Mary’s Church in Cheadle, and was followed by a reception at the Alderley Edge Hotel.
In the November in the run up to the wedding, my maid of honour/best friend and mother to my godsons sadly passed away after a 90 day battle of cancer. As such, myself and my godsons planned how she could be remembered throughout the wedding day so it was like she was there. The florist still made her bouquet, which I took to her grave the morning of the wedding. Everyone wore a purple bow and we let of purple balloons. ‘Dawn’s Poem’ written by Donna Broxton was read in the church service and we set her a place at the reception.
As pink is my favourite colour I picked it for the bridesmaid dresses, flowers and my bridal accessories including a pink feather bolero and Rachel Simpson bag and shoes.
We also incorporated a subtle Disney theme into the wedding as a nod to our Disney World engagement.
As I was never going to be invited to the Oscars, I saw the wedding as my time to have the best and biggest dress. However, when trying on the big princess dresses they didn’t suit me and I didn’t feel wow. I ended up trying on a Cymbeline dress and loved it. It stood out from anything else I tried and for me it said wow and I had never seen anything like it before, which I wanted. I wanted my dress to be remembered.
In terms of my accessories, I had the most amazing Cinderella/fairy godmother moment. After my best friend passed away I was approached at her funeral by wedding dress designer and pure genius Charlotte Balbier, who is a close friend of Dawn’s partner. She knew that the wedding planning had taken a dramatic holt as I was focusing on Dawn and trying my best to make her last weeks the most comfortable they could be and caring for her boys. She offered to help me sort the wedding out.
She invited me to her studio so I went along with my twin daughters and my mum. We talked through the wedding and the bits I needed help with and then she, along with her mum Amanda Wyatt, gave me all my accessories for the day – my veil, my tiara, my belt and a garter as well as matching tiaras for my little girls. It was the most amazing experience. To be styled by Amanda Wyatt and Charlotte Balbier is surely every bride’s dream.
Andy wore a black tux and bow tie. He wears a suit every day and when we looked at suits with pink it just looked like he was going to work so wanted something different and for him to look classic and timeless.
The best men and father of the groom wore the same as Andy. My dad wore his kilt as he loves it and I love him wearing it (and it’s not something he gets to wear every day).
My little boy (Andy’s best man) and my godsons wore black trousers, white shirts and bow ties with a grey jacket to give a small contrast to the men.
As our house is only 200 yards from the church and I wanted to walk to the ceremony on the wedding day. We had a car just in case it rained but it was the most beautiful day, so along with my bridesmaids and my dad we walked along the high street. My mum and the children went in the car and met us at the church. We then got the wedding car – hired from Horgans Wedding Cars – from the church to have photographs taken and then on to the reception.
Daniel Murrientes Photography captured our day. Dan was absolutely amazing and caught everything I wanted. I am always the photographer in life I have so many great photos of my friends and family but all phots of me are normally posed. I therefore wanted some natural ones of me, and Dan having a documentary style meant the images were perfect.
When it came to the flowers, had the most beautiful wedding bouquet from Sass Flower. I went to school Sasha but hadn’t spoken to her since we left high school. Then during the wedding planning my friend who was doing my makeup recommended her to me and when I saw some previous work I just knew she was my florist she understood exactly what I wanted and I still can’t believe how amazing my flowers were. Sasha came early on the wedding day to enable me to take Dawn her bouquet at her grave and then stayed all morning helping out getting everyone ready.
The venue was dressed by Love Rosie, based in Bolton. We also had fairy light drapes from Balloons and More, and I won a balloon arch from a Facebook competition. It was going to me a Minnie Mouse head but I got a phone call the morning of the wedding to say the room wasn’t high enough to have the ears, so it was just an arch but looked great nevertheless!
We had Disney couples for our table names and gave each guest a Cancer Research pin badge as favours, which were presented in a purple organza bag with a thankyou tag. We made a donation to the charity in honour of Dawn.
My amazingly talented cousins have a cake business – Cakes Aloud – and so they made our cake, which we absolutely loved!
For the wedding breakfast, we had mushroom tarte starter as I love mushrooms, lamb with Mediterranean vegetables for main, and chocolate pudding for dessert (chosen by Andy). I don’t like pudding so left it to him. However, my mum had made me an apple pie – the only pudding I like – so I was surprised with that. It just finished the meal off perfectly.
Entertainment-wise, we had The Fingerless Magician to entertain guest when they arrived at the hotel and whilst we were having photos. From what our guests said they thought he was amazing, guessing people’s phone passwords etc. We had a photo booth in the evening along with Princess Belle who came and mingled with guests and was in charge of making everyone sign the guest board.
As a special touch to the day, we had a photo montage of me and Andy that played whilst we were signing the register with some very cheesy Disney songs playing in the background. It showed images from us as babies recognising key moments in our lives – primary school/high school graduation/ family holidays – and then when we met our time together and us welcoming our children, up to the present year.
All the suppliers that contributed to our wedding were absolutely fantastic. I sourced the majority from Facebook and booked them on Black Friday or during the January sale offers which was even better as I saved lots of money.
Following our big day, we would definitely recommend The Alderley Edge Hotel to other brides and grooms. Carmen the wedding planner was so helpful and made sure everything ran smoothly along with the staff on the day. We were always welcomed and made to feel nothing was a problem and that they would try and do anything to accommodate us.
Looking back, our favourite part of the day was travelling in the car to the Edge in Alderley Edge to have photos as it was just me and Andy and we could just sit and chill and chat. But to be honest everything was perfect and it was my dream day.
For our honeymoon, we are going to go to Florida and do another four weeks at Disney!
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be to look around and compare prices and if you can, wait for the Black Friday and January offers. Also, enjoy every moment as it goes so fast, and don’t forget to take your dress bag to where you are staying, otherwise you have to just stuff your wedding dress in your car with everything else!