Today on Brides Up North, we’re in tipi heaven, as we escape to the wild and wonderful backdrop of High Barn, near Penrith, for a beautiful outdoors wedding weekend. Yes, that’s right – our couple, Emma and Chris, turned their nuptials back in September into a fabulous three-day affair, complete with quiz, fish and chip van, games and Sunday brunch!
There are so many talking points; we don’t know where to start! There’s everything from camper vans and specially made Egyptian jam favours, to a rather tasty selection of pies and pizza, not to mention plenty of bunting, fairy lights and – something a little bit different – dried flowers. And then there’s the picture-perfect rainbow, beautifully captured by their photographer.
Here, we invite Emma to reminisce about all the wonderful details…
With images by Johnny Dent Photography.
emma says: We got engaged on the top of Pendle Hill on New Year’s Eve 2016. I think it’s a really special place but on this particular day the wind was so strong I was worried we’d be swept off the top! I kept asking if we should turn back, but Chris was determined to get to the top. Once we had eventually made it, we had to hunker down on the side of the hill, as the wind would have knocked us off our feet! We were with our little dog, Barney and he did not like it. He was whimpering and wouldn’t stay still, so Chris quickly pulled out a bottle of champagne and asked me if I’d ‘wash some pots with him!’. I said “yes” and we finally cracked the champagne open once we were off the top!
We decided on the 9th September 2017 for the wedding. I love autumn and we figured that for the past few years the summer has been a bit of a washout, and it has seemed to improve in September. We were right! We had a wedding weekend, starting with drinks and a quiz on the Friday and ending with brunch on the Sunday.
We got married at St Cuthbert’s Church, Edenhall, and then had the reception a mile away at High Barn, Edenhall Estate, near Penrith. We had looked round a few places but once we saw High Barn there was no question; it was exactly what we wanted. High Barn is surrounded by the Lakes, the North Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales, in the middle of a field, next to a wood and nothing else. We knew we wanted to do everything ourselves and we were able to do that, a real DIY wedding.
For the main event, we hired two giant tipis from Special Event Tipis. They were fabulous! There is such a special atmosphere inside those amazing structures, and we had lots of fairy lights, bunting, lots and lots of candles and a fire pit to make it even more special. They were a bit of an extravagance, but I’m so glad we got them. They really make an event very special.
As we made a weekend of it, accommodation was a must. There are some cottages on the estate and there is a hotel in the nearby village, but for people who were staying on site, we arranged the Belle Hotel to come up. This is a mobile hotel room, guests book online and when they arrive, there is a beautiful belle tent waiting for them, futons, rugs and bunting too! They look really cool too and people couldn’t stop taking photos of them.
We didn’t have a set wedding theme in mind initially, but as we started to plan, things came together. I suppose you could call it rustic. Our stationery was brown card with twine, we had table decorations of gin bottles full of flowers and candles everywhere; we had teacups, bunting and dried flowers. We didn’t think about it too much and in the end everything seemed to go together just fine.
There wasn’t really a colour scheme either. The boys wore blue jackets, the bridesmaids wore a mink colour and the flowers were a mixture. We just went with what we liked. It worked!
When it came to my dress, I was aware that getting married in a field meant I couldn’t have anything too big or too much, and I wouldn’t have wanted that. In the end, I discovered The Case of the Curious Bride in Sale, Manchester, and I knew straight away that I would find my dress there. It’s a really cute, interesting shop, with a real vintage style to it. My mum and sister had afternoon tea whilst I tried dresses on! By the second appointment, I knew exactly which one I wanted: Ava by New Zealand designer, Johanna Hehir. It’s a white satin slip with a flowery lace dress over it. It was so elegant, so easy to wear and comfortable, and exactly what I wanted. I love the sleeves!
Chris and his best man Ross both wore suits bought online from Tweed Maker. It was a three-piece, which was exactly what he didn’t want, but he went for it and it looked great, and as they had to send their measurements, it fitted perfectly.
I initially bought my bridesmaids 1950s style rockabilly dresses in red, green and polka dot, but when they tried them on together I just didn’t like the look. I made the decision to try again and found the actual dress they wore on Little Mistress. I had five adult bridesmaids and they are all very different, but this dress was flattering for everyone. I had two little flowergirls, Chris’ seven-year-old niece and my six-month-old niece, both of whom wore beautiful dresses from TK Maxx.
Chris had a clear vision of what he wanted his boys to wear, but we couldn’t find it anywhere but eventually found the exact blue tweed blazer on the sale rack of New Look Men, Liverpool.
On the morning of the wedding, Kennedy and Anna from Capelli’s of Penrith came to the venue to do the bridal party’s hair. They worked so hard and did my five bridesmaids, my mum, sister-in-law and me and didn’t stop for four hours! Everyone looked fabulous. Chris’ niece, Lucy did our makeup and she did an amazing job.
In terms of transport, I asked my uncle to drive my dad and I to church in his beautiful car, which he did, after spending all morning polishing it, bless him. My auntie made a beautiful flower display inside and my cousins placed a little emergency hamper inside. They had also made us a playlist for the journey of our favourite songs. I thought Chris and I were travelling back in his car as a married couple, but as we left the church there were two T1 campervans waiting for us. Such a surprise! Chris converts campers for a living and we are passionate campers, so this was really special! The vehicles were provided by DJ Autospray/Cumbria Classic Car Restoration.
Our photographer was Johnny Dent and he was brilliant! I can’t recommend him highly enough. He was a big part of the day, he was great fun, but he never intruded. He took the few line ups we wanted, but the rest of the time was busy snapping away when people were least expecting it. He would come and grab Chris and I when he saw an amazing opportunity for a pic (for example, when we got a rainbow!) and we went for a couple of ‘walks’, with him clicking and us talking and walking, but the rest of the time, he let us get on with having a great day. I’m so glad he was there and love the photos he took.
I always feel a bit sad when wedding flowers start to droop during the day, and so, because of this, I decided to order dried flowers from the Artisan Dried Flower Co. I bought the festival meadow bouquet, with matching three-quarter flower crown, matching bridesmaid and flower girl bouquets and buttonholes. The girls also had matching flower grips in their hair. I love that everyone matched and still absolutely love the flowers. They arrived two weeks before the wedding, so there was no panic about not getting them in time, and we all still have them now, which is a lovely reminder for everyone. They smelled amazing too!
I decided to buy an extra bridal bouquet and used it to decorate the tipis. We had had everyone collecting jars and interesting gin bottles for the months leading up to the wedding, and used them as our table decorations. We filled the jars with candles and the gin bottles with a few sprigs of flowers from the bouquet and surrounded by large pillar candles.
Ben, of We are Vista, kindly made our brilliant signs. They were a real necessity, as the venue is very remote. And my brother-in-law, Ryan, provided the wonderful stationery. It really fitted in with the whole theme and we we’re so thankful.
I am an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Language) teacher and am passionate about supporting refugees and asylum seekers, so when it came to favours, I wanted them to be something close to my heart. I know of such a project in Manchester, Heart & Parcel, who teach ESOL with cooking and I approached them to ask if they could make us something to give to our guests. I decided on a strawberry Egyptian jam, which they made and put in a jar decorated with their logo as well as our names and wedding date. I was so happy that they were willing to do this for us and that by doing it, awareness of the project has increased and given them another way to fundraise.
I knew exactly the kind of wedding cake I wanted; something rustic, simple and elegant but beautiful and was even more touched when my sister, Jenny offered to make it for us. She did an amazing job and even took valuable time out on the morning of the wedding to decorate it with fresh flowers.
My brother is passionate about beer – he owns a bar and so when he offered to do the bar at our wedding, we were delighted! He chose the beers we had, all excellent choices I’ve been assured, and we spent a very enjoyable afternoon a few weeks before the wedding choosing our wines.
We knew we wanted to serve pies for our wedding breakfast. We’re Wiganers and pies are our staple, so it seemed mad to serve anything else. We chose to go with Jazzy J, also known as Janet from the local Moveable Feasts – Eden caterers. I worked closely with her to get exactly what we wanted – big pintxos and soup shots to keep everyone from being hungry during the drinks reception, steak, local game, veg or fish pie for the mains, served with mash and a choice of peas, followed by chocolate espresso slice], San Sebastian cheesecake or poached pears, served with cream.
We had pizzas later, supplied from Woodsprite Pizzas, and in the morning Jazzy J came back to provide us all with brunch butties. It was so personal and exactly what we wanted. I couldn’t recommend Jazzy and her team highly enough. She even organised Humes Catering to come up on the Friday night to serve us all fish and chips.
Another thing we had during the drinks reception was my sister’s chocolate brownies and lemon drizzle cake. They were available for everyone next to a hot water urn and teacups, meaning people could have hot drinks whenever they fancied. The cakes were a big success!
I’m a massive Beatles fan, and for my hen night we went to Liverpool and ended up in the Cavern. While we were there, the resident John Lennon, Jay Murray came on the stage. He’s a great performer and had us all in stitches! Afterwards I found him on Facebook and asked him if he’d come up to play at our wedding. He agreed and turned up with his guitar and entertained us. He was so fun and of course, we had a big sing-along of Hey Jude. No wedding is complete without that!
Another very special musical touch came from our friend Giles, who sang me up the aisle for the ceremony. So, so special.
Reflecting on our day, I honestly don’t think there is a better venue anywhere. If you want a country wedding, where you can make it exactly what you want it to be, then High Barn is your venue! Nathan could not have done more to help us, he went out of his way to make sure it was what we wanted and was really helpful to link us to people who could make our dreams come true. The church on the estate, the grade one listed St Cuthbert’s, is absolutely stunning too. It’s an ancient building, surrounded by beautiful fields, and Reverend Stephen Pye was entertaining and helpful too.
I absolutely loved every single second of the day, so to pick a favourite part is tough! I’d say walking up the aisle to Here, There and Everywhere and seeing everyone I love in one place, and Chris waiting for me. Getting a rainbow must come close, as does running into the tipi with everyone cheering us. Or maybe when our PA system blew, so we had an impromptu sing-along and then everyone ended up dancing in the old barn! At about two in the morning, Chris took me outside, away from our friends and we stood in the field, looking at the tipis, the beautiful barn, the belle tents and just talked about what an amazing time we had had. That was pretty amazing. Or my dad’s speech. Wow.
I’m afraid I got a bit emotional on Sunday morning, after the amazingness of the weekend, so our family and friends packed us both off with a car full of wine to the beautiful Swan Inn in Newby Bridge, where we slept, ate, recovered and opened our cards and presents. This was the most magical time, we just took in everything that had just happened and talked and talked!
From there we drove to Manchester airport and flew to Sicily. We stayed in a couple of places on the island, before getting the night ferry to Naples, glamped in a belle tent on the Amalfi coast and then ate the best pizza ever in Naples for two days, before coming home.
My top tip for other Brides Up North is – don’t overthink things and don’t allow yourself to get bogged down in little details. It’s going to be amazing and the little things really don’t end up mattering. Share the day and get everyone involved. We had people collecting jars and gin bottles for months, everyone helped us get the venue ready and we really made it a family affair. It makes it really special and everyone takes ownership of the day. Then, when it’s a success, everyone feels delighted! If at all possible, make a weekend of it. It creates a sense of community and allows everyone to relax. Plus, it’s so much fun and it all doesn’t fly by like everyone always says!