This morning on the blog we’re escaping to an award-winning hotel and spa set in 1,400 acres of spectacular countryside. Say hello to the beautiful Coniston Hotel in the Yorkshire Dales – the serene backdrop to Sarah and Sam’s big day last April.
Finding a venue that could accommodate all of their family and friends was a top priority for the couple, and The Coniston ticked this requirement rather nicely – and then some! Guests could really make a weekend of it, enjoying activities like clay pigeon shooting, or a more blissful experience in the spa.
Sarah and Sam’s wedding was all about the countryside feels, with plenty of natural tones, hessian and tweed. Our personal highlight has to be the couple’s jaunt outdoors on the rowing boat – true romance!
With images by Brides Up North Sponsor, Laura Calderwood Photography.
sarah says: We got engaged on 11th September 2016. Samuel went to elaborate measures for the perfect proposal. About six months before, he began to drop hints about wanting a surprise birthday party. He then spoke to his mum and asked her to convince me that we should throw him a surprise party for his 28th birthday as he would never expect it. I agreed and believed that his mother and I were planning him the party. Little did I know, Samuel planned the whole thing, including choosing the venue, and then made his mum pass it off as her idea and suggestions. Having a busy job as a teacher meant that I was none the wiser and too busy to question anything. Lots of our friends and family were gathered in the hall on the eve on our engagement, some knew what was coming, others had no idea. I gathered everybody around the door ready to shout surprise. When I opened the door, Samuel was down on one knee! I had absolutely no idea and was blown away. After saying yes, we partied the evening away with the people we love.
We got married on 8th April 2017. Being a teacher meant that our dates were restricted to the school holidays and as a close friend was getting married in the summer holidays, we chose April. We couldn’t have been happier with the weather; blazing sunshine and 17 degrees.
We tied the knot at St Peter’s Church, Coniston Cold, Skipton, and had the wedding breakfast and reception at The Coniston Hotel. When we started to plan, we sat down and discussed our values for the big day. We wanted somewhere that was going to accommodate all our family and friends and somewhere that would listen to us and work with us to be flexible. The Coniston were just that. They truly are an amazing wedding venue. Nothing was too much and our coordinator Sharon made sure our day was absolutely perfect. Our very good friend, Luke, is a rector so he performed the ceremony for us which really made it personal and all about us. He is amazing.
There was no particular theme – we liked cosy, countryside style and knew we wanted somewhere where all our family and friends could come together and spend the weekend, with clay pigeon shooting and the spa.
We wanted a neutral colour scheme and I was a particular fan of hessian and lace. I had seen lots of inspiration on Pinterest and wedding websites and was always drawn to this combination.
I knew from the start that I wanted a dress that incorporated lace and a train. I went to a few wedding fairs with my mum, grandma, sister and bridesmaids, and tried on quite a few dresses. I was starting to get frustrated because I liked certain parts of them but always wanted to change something. We watched the catwalk at one wedding fair and my mum saw a dress that she thought would look nice on me, so we went to try it on. It was from Berketex Bride. It was the first dress I’d tried on where I didn’t want to change anything. I still didn’t know it was the one until afterwards. Every dress I looked at (on the hangers) I kept comparing to this one, so I tried it on again and knew it was right. I did have a slight panic that I’d made the wrong choice afterwards, but once I tried it on in my size at my first fitting I knew I hadn’t.
Sam decided quite early on that he wanted to wear tweed to fit in with our relaxed country theme. He went to Bridal Apparel in Rawdon, Leeds and tried on a kilt which he absolutely loved. We don’t have any Scottish in our families, but we love to be different. The 12 boys had so much fun wearing them including my granddad, who loved it. All but one wore it like a true Scot!
Not being bothered by cars and transport, I left this with Sam to decide. He delivered! He rented a brand new Morgan from the factory for the weekend and it was amazing!
Our photographer was Laura Calderwood. You only need to look at our photos to see if we would recommend her. She is absolutely incredible. We knew when we first met her that we had to have her. As well as being a superbly talented photographer, she is also one of the nicest people you could ever meet. She is now our ‘official photographer’ and I can’t wait to book her again.
I used to video weddings, so videography was an important element for me. We chose Green Biscuit Studio after watching a few of his videos and getting emotional. We thought if he can make us emotional with someone else’s story, what could he do to ours! He didn’t disappoint. Our wedding video is something we will treasure forever and was worth every penny. Wayne was so discreet on the day that many people were surprised we had a wedding video when I posted it online. I really recommend getting a video if you are sitting on the fence.
Our flowers were provided by Simply Bespoke Flowers, which is actually Sam’s cousin. She did an amazing job and the flowers were stunning. I had roses and gypsophila with lots of greenery to match the kilts.
Sam’s mum and I made most of the decorations; table numbers, name cards, table plan, orders of service, invitations as we thoroughly enjoy crafts.
Sam’s mum also did our favours – bags of love hearts and mini eggs. Sam also ordered foam planes to build, which were a massive hit with everyone, and we made a donation to Cancer Research on everyone’s behalf.
My mum is a legend when it comes to baking so she made our three-tier cake. It had a Victoria sponge, chocolate and lemon layer. She also made loads of cupcakes to go around the cake. Yummy!
The food at The Coniston Hotel is incredible. We had chicken liver pate to start, lamb for main and their wonderful sticky toffee pudding for dessert. We had the house wine which was also really nice.
Entertainment-wise, we had a DJ who came with the package, but we sent him an extensive list of tracks to include on his playlist.
In the evening, Sam and I managed to go out for a ride in a rowing boat on the lake, which was an amazing moment to share as husband and wife.
We would most definitely recommend our choice of venue to other couples. The team at The Coniston are incredible and they really go out of their way to make you feel like the only couple they have getting married there. Sharon knew so much about us and still remembers us by name when we go in. It really was perfect.
My favourite part of the day was the ceremony. Walking down the aisle and finally getting married to Sam was everything I hoped it would be, and it was made all the more special by Luke, our friend and Vicar, marrying us.
We went to Bali and Kuala Lumpur for our honeymoon. We started in Seminyak at the Alila and it was amazing. We spent most of the time relaxing and eating great food. We then moved up to Ubud and stayed at the Samaya. We had a private villa with a pool, did yoga at 7am, visited rice paddies, temples and other points of interest. We also got super cheap massages and ate some more amazing food. Then we went on more tours, including lunch at the top of the KL Tower. We would recommend Bali as a honeymoon destination and thought Trailfinders were great to book with.
My top tip for other Brides Up North is, keep relaxed in the planning stages and make sure you keep talking to each other. Don’t let anyone else change your mind or force their opinions, as it’s your big day. Also, remember to make the day all about you and your loved ones.
During the planning, I also found the real weddings section on Brides Up North really helpful and it gave me loads of inspiration and ideas. It was great to see things in practice.