After a dreamy proposal in the romantic city of Venice, Rachael and Tom had set the bar high for a beautiful and memorable wedding day to follow. Choosing the gorgeous Saltmarshe Hall as their reception venue, a Grade II listed 19th Century house on the banks of the River Ouse in East Yorkshire, with a whopping 17 acres of garden, they certainly ticked the ‘dream setting’ box. If you too love the look of this stunning venue then be sure to mark Sunday 15th April in your diary as we will be staging one of our Luxury Wedding Fairs at the Hall on that day, giving you an opportunity to see all it has to offer first hand!
But back to today’s wedding! We love Rachael and Tom’s idea of choosing sharing platters for the wedding breakfast– what a great way to break the ice and get guests talking. With all that delicious food to work off – and music a passion of the groom’s – Tom handpicked a live band for the evening, ensuring the guests danced their way into the early hours.
Rachael and Tom may have had a tinge of the wedding blues after their honeymoon, but they definitely created some wonderful memories to send those gloomy thoughts packing!
With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, Bethany Clarke Photography.
rachael says: We got engaged in Venice on 27th August 2015. On our last night, we went for a ride on a Gondola and then to St Mark’s Square. We watched the sun set over Venice from the top of the Campanile and then walked back to our hotel. On the way, we stopped on a footbridge over one of the canals and Tom got down on one knee and asked if I would marry him. Although we’d been together for seven years, it was still a big surprise and we couldn’t wait to get home and tell our families.
Our wedding was on 28th July 2017. Being a teacher, I wanted to get married in the summer holidays, so that we could go on our honeymoon straight after the wedding and not have to rush back to work straight away. My sister, Katherine, flew back from San Francisco where she lives and works for the big day too.
We had our wedding ceremony at Laxton Church and our reception at Saltmarshe Hall, near Howden. We looked at a few venues and nothing had blown us away but, on driving up the beautiful driveway to Saltmarshe Hall and seeing the grounds surrounding it, we knew we had found somewhere special. The house is beautiful, with a wonderful staircase and different rooms offering space for guests to relax, drink and dance. We knew we didn’t want a huge wedding and Saltmarshe could accommodate 70 guests in the Morning Room. We also loved the exclusivity that Saltmarshe offered; for our day, it would be ours. Having been recently extended with additional bedrooms, plenty of family could stay for the two nights. The team was fantastic – friendly and professional – and I knew our wedding was in safe hands with them.
Our colour scheme was shades of purple/lilac. I didn’t have a colour scheme in mind initially but when looking for bridesmaids’ dresses and thinking about flowers it all came together. April at BlueBird Wedding Stationery, did a wonderful job with our invitations and order of service, which tied in with the colour scheme too.
My dress was from Jacquelines Bridal of Beverley. I’d been to a couple of shops but hadn’t found anything quite right and was waiting for my ‘this is the one’ moment. I knew I wanted something A-line but nothing too big. My bridesmaids had travelled up for the weekend to help me, along with my sister. As soon as I put my dress on, they all said it was the one and it just felt different to the others. I loved the layers of lace and the detail but had to do a return trip with my mum just to get her approval before I took the plunge. The seamstress at Jacquelines did a great job making sure the dress fitted perfectly and they even arranged for it to be cleaned after the big day.
Victoria Farr and her assistant did my hair and that of my three bridesmaids and mum. She did a practice session a few months before to make sure we knew exactly what I wanted and how it would look. She was so friendly and a great person to have around when we were getting ready and I would definitely recommend her.
Tom wore a three-piece navy Ted Baker suit and black Ted Baker shoes purchased from Slaters Menswear. He wore a lilac tie, as did the groomsmen, that matched the bridesmaids’ dresses, which were bought online from Swagger and Swoon.
The groomsmen all wore a navy three-piece suit from Skopes, and the bridesmaids wore a pale purple one-shoulder dress from Ariella. My sister hadn’t tried her bridesmaid dress on until she flew back from San Francisco for my hen do in June, but luckily it fit.
I stayed at Saltmarshe Hall the night before the wedding, and then the following day I travelled in a Rolls Royce Silver Wraith from Cupid Carriages for the five-minute journey to the church.
Bethany Clarke was our photographer. She was so easy to work with and, for most of the day, she just blended into the background. Bethany was able to get all the shots we wanted to remember our day but without us being away from our guests for too long. The photographs and album we received were beautiful and we have loved showing them off.
Emma Cutting from Beau Ideal Weddings provided all the flowers. My bouquet was white, ivory and pale purple flowers, including peonies and roses. Emma found a beautiful purple-flowered mint, which had the most wonderful scent. I knew I didn’t want anything too structured and wanted something natural looking, so I also had succulents and the bouquet was finished with eucalyptus foliage. My bridesmaids had miniature versions of my bouquet and Emma did the most fantastic job. Everything looked ven better than I had imagined.
We kept the decoration in the church quite simple and used white candles and lanterns in the windows. For the pew ends we alternated glass bottles containing lavender sprigs tied with ribbon and white wicker hearts. For decoration at Saltmarshe we purchased lots of glass hurricane jars and candles, which we placed in the different rooms.
Emma from Beau Ideal created the table centerpieces, which were a mixture of tall glass vases and low displays. The flowers were similar to my bouquet: free-form white/ivory and purple flowers with hydrangea, succulents and trailing foliage. Emma also did a beautiful display down the staircase with foliage and white flowers. I have a number of the succulents from our wedding in pots around the house.
Hannah Vagg from Han Made Cakes in Hull made our cake. We wanted a simple but beautiful cake, so chose a three-tiered white iced cake with purple and white flowers around the bottom and dots of icing over the top. We knew we wanted sponge cake instead of the traditional fruit and decided on vanilla, chocolate and salted caramel sponge – a different flavour for each layer. On the top of our cake we had wooden peg dolls, which were custom painted to look like us, by Gemma Allen from The Wildflower Paper Co.
For our drinks reception, we had peach Bellinis, the drink we had in Venice to toast our engagement, and Peroni lager. Saltmarshe Hall provided the food and there were so many compliments about it. For our wedding breakfast, we had sharing platters to start. Each table had a platter of fresh breads and fish (smoked salmon, trout, mackerel, paté, crayfish tails, prawns) and a Ploughman’s platter of pork pie, scotch eggs, pickled vegetables and crisps. For the main, we offered our guests a choice of East Yorkshire beef with Yorkshire pudding, roast carrots and chateau potatoes with gravy or pan-fried crispy skin chicken breast with sweet onion mash and red wine jus. Our vegetarian guests had Mediterranean vegetable paella. For dessert, we had a trio of mini desserts: raspberry crème brûlée, chocolate brownie and limoncello strawberries, crushed meringue and vanilla mascarpone.
For our evening food we planned one of our favourites: a summer barbecue of beef burgers and sausages, with all the extras. Although the weather had other plans and the food was eaten inside, it didn’t dampen people’s spirits or appetites.
As Tom is a keen musician, having a live band was really important to him. He did a brilliant job at arranging the music and found the amazing Captain Atlantic, a four-piece band based in Manchester. They performed our first dance song (Ho Hey by the Lumineers) and put on the best night of music. They were friendly and fun and really finished the day off with a bang as we danced our way into the early hours.
For another special touch our guests had fun taking their own pictures with an instant camera and adding them to our DIY photo guestbook with their own messages. It was lovely to look back on after the day.
It’s tricky to pick a favourite part of the day as there are so many. For me, walking down the aisle towards Tom after all the anticipation of that moment with all our closest friends and family under one roof was a really special moment. Tom tells me his favourite bit was seeing me for the first time in church. He says, “Everyone who’d seen her that morning was saying how amazing she looked and I couldn’t wait to see her. She looked absolutely incredible!”
For our honeymoon, we flew to LA and started our trip with a few nights in a beachfront apartment in Malibu. Spending time on the beach was a great way to relax after such a busy build-up to the big day. We then drove to LA and did all the tourist spots: Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Walk of Fame, Griffith Observatory, Disneyland and Universal Studios. On our last night, we were so lucky to get complimentary tickets to Lady Gaga’s concert at the Forum (a generous gift from someone we met through Laxton Church whose daughter worked at the arena). To finish our trip, we flew to San Francisco where we met up with my sister. It was great to visit all the famous landmarks we’d seen in many films – Alcatraz, Pier 39 – and to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a great way to finish our trip and, although we definitely suffered from the post-wedding/honeymoon blues, we have so many wonderful memories to look back on and wish we could do it all over again.
My top tip other Brides Up North would be to really enjoy the process of organising the wedding as much as you can. It is such a busy and, at times, stressful experience worrying about making the right decisions and trying to keep everyone happy, but it is also a really special time and one that doesn’t last forever, so make the most of it. Ultimately, it’s your day and, as long as you do what makes you both happy, you can’t go wrong.