Initially setting out with no set wedding theme, the inspiration for today’s featured celebration was triggered by the couple’s choice of venue. Reminding Aimee and Simon of a swanky speakeasy, the stunning art nouveau style of The Belle Époque in Cheshire, provided all the bridal inspo this pair could need for their special day.
In preparation for the party to come, the bride and groom named each table after a gin or whisky cocktail, placing their guests’ names into corks to create place settings, and also treated everyone to a shot of elderflower gin, sloe gin or whisky.
It wasn’t all about the tipples though – there are plenty of wonderful details and throwbacks to look out for, including a kitsch VW campervan and old vinyl – a quirky guestbook idea if ever we saw one. As for the chalkboard style cake – this is simply divine! We’ll pass the blog over to Aimee now though to talk us through all the fabulous day…
With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, Slice of Pie Photography.
aimee says: We got engaged in Venice, in September 2014. Simon later told me that he had planned to propose at Christmas but brought it forward when we booked Venice. We had been out to dinner that night when Simon suggested heading back to the hotel early. I was initially reluctant, as I wanted to soak up as much as Venice as I could but was easily persuaded when he said there would be cake, prosecco and a bubble bath! Whilst relaxing in the bath (feeling totally spoilt at this point!) he gave me his iPod and asked me to listen to a song he had recorded. I’d heard him play guitar many times before but had never heard him sing. He had written the most beautiful song about our relationship. The last line was ‘so Aimee will you be my wife?’ At this point Simon had made his way back into the bathroom and was down on one knee. He had even been to my parents’ house and collected the ring box that my grandma’s engagement ring was in because he knew how much I cherished her. It was perfect and to say I was surprised was an understatement – I had absolutely no idea!
We tied the knot on Sunday 7th August 2016. We’d both decided early on that we’d like to get married in the summer and that date was available.
The ceremony took place at St Mary the Virgin Church in Leigh, which is our local church. Simon’s mum used to ring the bells there when she was a young girl.
We chose The Belle Époque as the venue for the reception. We both wanted something a little different from your traditional wedding venue. Within seconds of visiting The Belle Époque we gave each other a look and we knew it was the right choice for us.
Initially we didn’t set out to have a theme and just wanted our wedding to be filled with things that we both liked. However, we were inspired by the art nouveau style of The Belle Époque and how it reminded us of an old speakeasy so we definitely styled a lot of our wedding around this.
We didn’t set a specific colour scheme. We just wanted soft colours that complemented each other. In the end it was a mixture of blues, greys, pinks and purples. We actually had lots of compliments afterwards about how well everything matched!
I wore the Noli dress by Cabotine from Claire Louise Brides in Bolton. I had absolutely no idea what kind of dress I wanted and I found it difficult to find ‘the one’ at first. However, when I walked into Claire Louise Brides I knew that’s where I would find my dress! All the dresses had a little something different and in the end I was spoilt for choice. I loved the tulle bottom to my dress and the dropped waistline. I also bought my floor-length veil and headpiece from here. Judith and Claire were wonderful and really make you feel special – I would definitely recommend them.
I would especially like to mention the ladies who helped to make us look beautiful on the big day! Contrast Hair Design, Leigh, opened up the salon for us on the day and gave us exclusive use. They prepared a champagne breakfast for the bridal party to enjoy and pampered us rotten. I can’t thank them enough. Our makeup was done by the very talented Terri Grisdale, who I would also highly recommend.
We hired a split screen VW camper from I Do Campers to transport us on the day. Not very speakeasy but hey who says you have to stick to rules!? Simon is a car enthusiast and loves anything vintage. His dream is to own a VW camper one day. David from I Do Campers was lovely and even took the scenic route to our venue to allow us to spend some precious moments together.
Our photographers for the day were Slice of Pie Photography. Mark and Laura were wonderful throughout the whole process and we instantly felt at ease with them. They were relaxed, fun and unobtrusive. We are in love with our photos and they made everything feel so easy on the day. We would recommend them to anyone!
I am very lucky to have a florist in the family. My Auntie Catherine is a florist and she arranged a beautiful bouquet for me, the bridesmaids’ flowers and the button holes for the men. I went for a loose, hand-tied bouquet with roses, eucalyptus, eryngium thistle and various other summer flowers.
The Belle Époque has so many unique and wonderful features so we didn’t need much decoration at all at the venue. We used their flower arrangements for the tables as they complemented the room perfectly.
My mum and I made the remaining decorations for the day. Many weekends and long evenings were spent crafting together. Each table was named after a classic gin or whisky cocktail. Our table plan was set on a large ornate mirror topped with a large flower arrangement. The name cards were placed into corks and decorated with guinea fowl feathers. Leading up to the wedding, we collected lots of jars which we decorated with flowers and placed them on the tables with tea lights in them. Instead of a traditional guestbook, we asked our guests to sign old vinyls so that we could frame them later.
As favours, each guest was given a shot of elderflower gin, sloe gin or whisky. We also made everyone a cork keyring with our initials and ‘just married’ stamped on it. The children were given colouring books and traditional games, such as marbles.
We had a chalkboard style cake made by Jo’s Cakery in Leigh. The middle tier was made to look like a chalkboard and had our names etched in white. My mum also made a traditional white iced fruit-cake to go alongside it.
The food was a real highlight of the day. The Belle Époque serve high standard grub and everybody seemed to love it! We had a traditional three-course wedding breakfast. In the evening we had mini burgers, fish and chip cones and mini welsh rarebit. They went down a storm and were served to people as they danced which meant the party never stopped!
Music was a huge part of our day as it is so important to both of us. I walked down the aisle to Fix You by Coldplay and we walked out to Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns and Roses – both played on the organ! We booked Big Boss Man DJ for the evening. They were recommended to us by a friend. They play a mixture of soul, funk, motown and indie. They were fantastic – the dance floor was never empty! Our very talented friend also did an acoustic set for us. It was really special and got the night off to a brilliant start.
We would certainly recommend our choice of venue to other couples. Lots of guests commented on how unique and beautiful The Belle Époque was. All the staff worked really hard throughout the day to ensure everything ran smoothly. We especially liked the different rooms and roof top garden where we were able to enjoy the glorious sunshine.
The whole day was more than either of us could have wished for and it’s almost impossible to pick our favourite part. The speeches were a particular highlight for me. Simon and my dad had everyone in tears and the best man Tom had everyone crying with laughter. My sister had written a poem which she read out during the speeches. It was a complete surprise to both of us and I cried from beginning to end.
We went to Hong Kong and Bali for our honeymoon. Simon had never done long haul before but I think he’s hooked now! It was the perfect mix of city, culture, relaxation and beautiful scenery.
I know this will sound really cliché but our main tip for other Brides Up North would be, relax and enjoy every moment! It goes so quickly and is truly one of the most special experiences you will ever have. Try to not worry about the small stuff because on the big day I guarantee you won’t be thinking of them and no one will notice if something doesn’t go to plan!
Also, during the planning stages I read lots of blogs, spent hours on Pinterest and read lots of the real weddings on Brides Up North. I loved reading about other people’s special days and found it a great source of inspiration.