Baby it’s cold outside, but we have a stunning real wedding that’s guaranteed to warm up your Monday morning.
Featuring an abundance of blooms – from striking bouquets and centrepieces, to blossom trees, a floral wall and iced flowers on the cake – Jeff and Zarah’s big day was nothing short of beautiful.
The stunning Hillbark Hotel in the Wirral provided the perfect setting for their elegant big day, with the ceremony taking place in the spectacular Grand Hall and the reception in the venue’s large star-lit marquee.
Drawing on her experiences as a guest at the weddings of friends and family, Zarah picked out her favourite features and mixed in a few of her big day wishes too, resulting in an entertaining and enjoyable day for all.
With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, James Tracey Photography.
zarah says: We got engaged in Cuba on the 22nd May 2016. Jeff organised a lovely meal. We got picked up from our hotel in a 1957 Chevrolet car, which was amazing. When we got back to the hotel after our meal, Jeff insisted he wanted to walk on the beach and smoke a cigar – as you do in Cuba! I was a bit hesitant at first as a few drops of rain appeared. None the less we walked down to the beach and Jeff smoked his cigar. After a short stroll down the beach, I wanted to go back into the hotel as few more drops of rain appeared. As we walked back along the beach Jeff said, “wait I have something to ask you”. He then went down on his knee, as he proposed lightening appeared in the background and he asked for my hand in marriage. I was quite shocked and said “ok”, feeling the happiest lady in the world. Jeff then chuckled and told me when he asked my dad, he said the same thing!
We got married on Friday 25th August 2017. We choose that date as it was the bank holiday weekend and we thought it would be a nice long weekend for our friends and family.
We got married in the Wirral at a hotel called Hillbark Hotel and Spa. We choose this venue as it is a beautiful Tudor style hotel and had an amazing great hall where we could get married. There are only 16 rooms at the hotel which meant we had the whole place to ourselves on our wedding day. The details at the hotel are amazing and it has lovely features, such as a large chandelier, fire place and hidden rooms. We also heard good reviews about how amazing their food is. It was also the perfect place where we could get married in the Great Hall and have our wedding breakfast meal in the star lit marquee.
We didn’t really have a theme or style, but I wanted it to be stylish yet classy with a bit of everything. I have been to a lot of weddings and over the years and I have liked parts of different friends and family weddings and I wanted to incorporate this into my own wedding. Things like the blossom trees, larger flower centre pieces and flower background wall.
I chose lemon, white and dashes of hot pink for the colour scheme as lemon and pink are my favourite colours – I like bright and exotic colours having a Mauritian background.
Dress-wise, I wanted a princess style design, which incorporated lace – I also wanted it to be off the shoulder with short sleeves. I went to a few bridal stores until I found the dress at Ava Rose Hamilton in Colne. They had a selection of amazing and beautiful dresses. They didn’t quite have the dress I had in mind but then they showed me a beautiful lace top which I could add onto of my dress, which just finished my dress off perfectly, along with a long cathedral veil with small diamantes. The service at Ava Rose Hamilton was amazing and I would definitely recommend anyone to go to this shop, if they are looking for a stylish wedding dress.
Jeff wore a bespoke suit from Signature Bespoke in Liverpool. He chose a navy-blue tuxedo style suit with a large velvet bow tie and velvet lapels on his suit jacket.
I stayed with my bridesmaids at the hotel the night before my wedding so didn’t require transport. Jeff meanwhile was picked up in a Rolls Royce, which the hotel owned, and arrived with his mum and best man.
Our photographer was James Tracey. I would definitely recommend him, as we wanted someone to capture our day naturally rather than a lot of posed photos. He made us feel very comfortable and we were at ease when we were doing our couple shots. If someone wants photos which tell your wedding day as a beautiful love story, James is the perfect person to have as your photographer.
We also had a videographer to film our day, In Love Wedding Films. A few friends and family were saying to get one as it would be a lovely memory to keep and to watch. I must have watched our wedding video hundreds of times, showing it to our friends and family and I love it every time. It is definitely the best thing to have!
My bouquet was created by Jodie Bhondoo of Eden Floral Styling, who is owned by a friend of mine. My flowers were a wild mix of blousy summer flowers in creams, pale lemon, yellow and – to include white – peonies, vanilla sky roses, Layla roses, white cymbidium orchids with pink throats and a couple of gloriosa heads with brooches and diamantes. I also had a locket attached which had a beautiful photo of my dear mum inside, so it felt like she was with me and part of my special day.
For the reception we had four tall arrangements which consist of willow and a mass of summer flowers interspersed, including hydrangeas and peonies, a mix of roses, framed with palms for a touch of the tropical vibe and they had hanging crystal garlands suspended from the willow, and a couple of gloriosa stems to trail down the side of the vase. The four medium arrangements had hot pink hydrangeas with willow and the seven low arrangements were in hurricane vases with floating candles and a mix of all the flowers. These were all done by Eden Floral Styling.
As further decoration, we had a star cloth backdrop with swag and drapes, a flower wall, and two blossom trees, provided by Woodyatt Warner.
The ladies’ favours were macaroons in a mini cake stand and the men’s were in a laser cut cream box. The flavours were chocolate salted caramel, lemon and passion fruit, all fitting to the colour scheme.
For the kids, I made fun packs which included, crayons, colouring book, sticker book, glow sticks and flying dinosaurs. I know it can be hard entertaining kids at a wedding during a sit-down meal so I thought this would be a great idea to entertain them – it certainly did work!
Our cake was baked and iced by my sister-in-law’s sister, Emma Lawrence, and Time for Sweetpea decorated it. I wanted a five-tier wedding cake, which I had seen on Pinterest, which had sugar flowers wrapped around the cake. The sugar flowers were pastel pink, lemon and white and we had different flavours of lemon, chocolate and Victoria sponge.
For our breakfast meal, we wanted something different which is one of the reasons why we choose the venue as their food is amazing. For starters, we had smoked salmon and crayfish terrine with horseradish cream; main course was medallion of beef with au poivre sauce accompanied with roast vegetables; and for dessert we had sticky toffee and date pudding with scotch sauce. When we went for the food tasting we were amazed by the presentation and how good the food tasted and knew everyone would love it. For the vegetarians, we had vegetable wellington and seabass.
As entertainment, we had a string quartet during our ceremony and drinks reception. I wanted my wedding to be different and to have the wow factor as I haven’t been to a wedding where there was a string quartet.
In the evening we had a DJ who played great music, and as extra entertainment we had a selfie mirror and an old fashion Italian trike (Isabelle’s Ices) which served ice-cream for our guests. As we had extra guests arriving in the evening I wanted them to be a part of the wedding and not felt like they had missed out on everything, which is why I added these little touches to the evening.
After our wedding, I would definitely recommended Hillbark Hotel to other couples. The service, food and the organisation were perfect on the day. The hotel and the grounds are beautiful, and the venue is big enough to host large wedding parties.
My favourite parts of the day were getting ready in the morning, walking down the aisle with my dad and marrying my best friend. I enjoyed the build up to the wedding and was looking forward to the day ahead of us.
We went to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, on honeymoon. We had a lovely time relaxing and went on a few trips which was fun, such as visiting ruins in Coba and swimming in a cenote. We had a fabulous time and was lucky enough to get upgraded on the plane!
My top tip for other Brides Up North is – enjoy the day as it’s the best day of your life and don’t worry if things go wrong as no one would know! I would also recommend having a videographer it was the best thing we did, the day is such a blur and goes so fast that watching the video made us felt like we re-lived our day and remembered it.
We had the most amazing day of our lives and we wished we could do it all over again, I only wished my mum and Jeff’s dad could have been there on the day to celebrate with us. But I am sure they were watching from above.