What do a horsebox, a pizza oven and a donut wall all have in common? Nope, this isn’t our attempt at a bad joke, but rather they all feature in today’s stunner of a real wedding.
The lovely Jessica and her beau Mike booked out all of the cottages at their stunning rural venue the night before the main event and treated their guests to the finest in laidback outdoor cuisine to get everyone in the mood for the celebration ahead. Family and friends ate, drank and were merry, turning their wedding into a whole weekend to remember.
In planning their rustic big day, Jessica and Mike wanted to create the sense that the colours and textures were “organic…the same indoors as out”. Looking at their gorgeous autumnal palette, the groom’s tweed and the bride’s woodland blooms, we think they definitely achieved their mission.
With images by Jess Yarwood Photography.
jessica says: We got engaged on a mini road trip. Mike simply came into the house one afternoon and said “let’s go!’ We started at Drury where we stopped at the chippy, drove all the way to the top of Hope Mountain, found a rocky outcrop and sat and ate chips. As I was looking out over the beautiful views of Wales and Cheshire a ring box caught my eye.
Our wedding date was 27th November 2017. There was no particular reason behind the date, but I’d always liked the idea of an autumn wedding. The colours of the leaves are so beautiful, although I was a little bit worried about unpredictable weather.
Our ceremony and reception was at Combermere Abbey in Whitchurch. We booked the accommodation at Combermere for the night before meaning that both sets of family and friends could stay over and get to know each other. We had a total of nine cottages, which easily accommodated 49 guests. We transported a pizza oven in a horse box and served pizza, nibbles and drinks all night. The bridal party moved onto the Stone Lodge later on, and continued the party.
The theme we picked was rustic to fit in with our surroundings and the Abbey grounds, so we incorporated lots of wood and greenery. Our colour scheme was autumnal to fit in with what was going on outdoors – we wanted everything to flow and feel quite organic; that the colours and textures were the same indoors as out.
I chose a Rebecca Ingram dress – it was a lace and tulle dress in a blush pink colour with white lace and matching veil purchased from Aristocrats in Chester. The staff were extremely helpful and made the process very easy. I chose it because I loved it on the hanger, and my mum told me before I’d even tried it on that it was the one for me. She was 100% right!
Mike wore a tweed suit jacket and waistcoat bought from Chester City Gate. He hired the trousers from Swarbricks in Manchester to match with the ushers’ suits. We’d seen Swarbricks at a wedding show and we loved their range of tweed.
We had three sets of bridesmaids: the older girls wore Jenny Packham from Debenhams, the younger ones wore Next dresses and the babies wore Monsoon. They were all in shades of burgundy and pinks to complement my gown.
Our makeup artist was practically a magician – the lovely Lydia Ryan. She came and made up not only the adult bridal party, but also a number of guests staying in the cottages. I’m sure it wasn’t easy but she smashed it!
Prior to the ceremony, Mike walked from the cottages to the Pavilion up through the gardens and we have some great photos of him and his groomsmen. I travelled in a Crosley car from the 1920s which was provided by Combermere Abbey.
Our photographer was Jess Yarwood and her team; we opted for a second shooter and a videographer. We recommend her highly and we absolutely love our pictures. One memory which will stay with us both forever was Jess shouting “and…kiss!” – it still makes us laugh! We didn’t set them any ‘must have’ shots and just trusted their judgment. During the meal and halfway through the speeches, Jess asked us to nip out for a quick sunset photo as the sun dipped down through the trees. It was so beautiful and effective and we’re so glad that Jess had creative reign over the shots. We might be biased but our photos are the best we’ve ever seen; she captured such special moments from the day.
After speaking to other people we decided to go for a videographer and I think the video is one of the best gifts we could have been given. The music and the styling are exactly as I thought they would be. Mike can’t stop watching it! Jess and her team managed to capture the atmosphere and parts of the day we missed but are now able to treasure forever.
The flowers were created by Wild Floral Design in Chester. Again, I let the florist take the lead and decide which specific blooms we should have; I just suggested some colours and explained our natural, rustic theme. They turned out perfectly!
Our room decorator Flossies Weddings were really clever in designing the room. She decided to display our bouquets in wooden pots on the top table, which added another personal touch to the day.
We made our table plan by using places we’d visited together and photos from each place. We also had a designated photo table with lots of photos of the two of us from when we were young and a section dedicated to family who couldn’t be with us.
For favours we bought laser-cut wooden name tags, some alcoholic shots for the grownups and activity books and sweeties for the children to keep them entertained.
The cake was definitely Mike’s choice! We went for a simple design: a four-tier cake with buttercream and flowers on the outside. The flavours were cherry Bakewell, lemon, vanilla and salted caramel. Little Fancies made and delivered it and they were amazing!
The food was provided by Olive Tree Brasserie. We went for a simple meal of mozzarella on ciabatta to start, slow-cooked beef and veggies for the main (with gnocchi for me as I’m vegetarian) and a trio of desserts comprising Jammie Dodger cheesecake, lemon tart brûlée and sticky toffee pudding.
For the entertainment we had a string quartet playing indie music at the ceremony, followed by a DJ at night. We kept things simple – we just wanted everyone up on the dance floor all night long.
As extra fun, we had a photobooth positioned outside – just a hanging frame, but it was so effective. Oh, and we had a donut wall, too!
After our big day, we would definitely recommend Combermere Abbey to other couples – the venue is stunning. Everything was perfect; we visited a few times in all seasons and each time we loved it even more. The staff were fantastic and couldn’t do enough for us. Every guest was so impressed by it all!
Mike’s favourite moment of the day was the speeches – he loved the atmosphere and that they brought everyone together. Mine was the whole day; from getting ready to the ceremony and chatting afterwards to dancing with all our friends and family!
We went to Australia for our honeymoon, visiting family on the Sunshine Coast. We also went to Sydney, Brisbane and a wonderful place called Noosa. We spent our days visiting the beaches, drinking coffee and ginger beer.
My top tip for other Brides Up North? Don’t stress! And I would strongly recommend getting a venue decorator/stylist. It’s easy to think that it’s easier to do it yourself but it was so reassuring to know that we could enjoy the day before without worrying about centrepieces. Oh, and get married early – it gives you loads of time to chat to everyone!
Also, during the planning, we loved looking at the real weddings on Brides Up North for inspiration and the amount of tips we picked up were invaluable. We started off feeling clueless, but these definitely helped!