Longing to get married outdoors, today’s couple, Emily and Tom fell in love with the beautiful gardens at Ringwood Hall Hotel – an exquisite 19th century manor house in Derbyshire.
Tying the knot on 21st June, in what is otherwise known as the Summer Solstice – the couple were inspired by one of our favourite plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and incorporated a variety of magical elements within their big day. Look out for plenty of handcrafted wooden decorations, wild flowers and an all-natural colour palette, creating a captivating setting fit for any fairy king or queen.
Making their day truly unique and personal – the couple made their own centrepieces, table plan and welcome sign, with family and friends adding their own touches too, from capturing photos from the day to performing songs throughout their picture perfect ceremony in the bandstand. Here’s Emily to tell us all the fabulous details…
With images by Laura Taylor.
emily says: We got engaged on 1st May 2016 in Paris. After four-and-a-half years together we took a trip to Paris and as we were sitting in the park looking up at the Eiffel Tower, Tom got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! We had two years to plan the wedding, which I think was a nice amount of time to save some pennies and plan everything without stressing out.
Our wedding date was 21st June 2018, which is the Summer Solstice, or Midsummer’s Day. Traditionally, it is meant to be good luck to get married on this date, and we were hoping for good weather – which we got!
Our venue was Ringwood Hall Hotel in Chesterfield. It has always been my dream to get married outside (a bit risky for UK weather, I know!) so we hunted the area for venues where you can legally get married outside. When we first saw Ringwood Hall we knew it was the perfect location because the gardens are gorgeous and the bandstand area, which is used for outdoor weddings, is just lovely.
With it being Midsummer’s Day, we built on that theme and were inspired by A Midsummer’s Night Dream. We had natural elements – neutral colours, bits and bobs made out of wood, and the main emphasis was on the flowers which were country style/wild flowers in all different colours.
I am an artist so I was very creatively involved, and my husband likes woodwork, so together we made most of the decorations ourselves. We found a big old tree which was being chopped down, so Tom cut a slice and I painted a welcome sign on it. I hand-painted our seating plan, which was a tree with the seating plan cards hanging from the branches. All the invitations, menus, signs etc were made by me, and Tom made our table centrepieces out of pallet wood, which then had jars of flowers on top. It all came together perfectly.
My dress was a fairy-tale tulle dress by Viva Bride from Wed2B. I was absolutely in love with it. I chose the dress because it matched the natural, fairy-tale theme perfectly – the million layers of tulle made it quite floaty. It had very thin straps, which I was glad of, as it was a hot day and I don’t think I could have managed in a dress with sleeves or any more coverage around the top. The gown also had a delicate lace embroidery detail all over the bodice and a bit of sparkle, which was great for dancing at the reception!
The men all wore matching dark blue suits from Debenhams, but Tom had a different waistcoat in a grey tweed style.
The bridesmaids wore full-length grey dresses from Little Mistress. We wanted most of the colour to be in the flowers, and everything else to be neutral. The grey dresses suited all three girls and they all looked lovely.
On the wedding day we all did our own makeup – I decided to wear red lipstick on the day as I am a big fan of a bold lip and wanted to give an extra pop of colour to my look.
I also did my own hair – I have naturally curly hair and I wanted to feel like my natural self on my wedding day so I just washed it in the morning, so the curls would be fresh and bouncy. I bought a dried flower crown from The Artisan Dried Flower Company, which I then weaved my hair around – it was wild flowers to match my bouquet and I felt like a proper fairy princess!
My sister and maid of honour, Lucy, did all the bridesmaids’ hair – they had it down and wavy, with a plait in the front and a dried flower spray to match my flower crown.
With us having the whole event at Ringwood Hall, and the bridal party all stopping at the hotel the night before, we had no need for any transport.
My amazingly talented friend Laura Taylor kindly did all our photography on the day (she doesn’t have a website just yet but can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org). It was very special having a friend do our photography as we felt that we could just be ourselves and there was no awkwardness. She also made us laugh a lot, so our pictures are all filled with genuine happiness and laughter rather than being staged.
Our videographer was Stuart at LensGo Visual Media. I would highly recommend them as our video is outstanding and Stuart and his colleague blended so seamlessly into our wedding day, capturing all the important moments without feeling like they were imposing.
All the flowers at the wedding were created by Melvyn at Strides in Chesterfield. They were a mixture of country / wild flowers in all different colours. I cried when I saw our bouquets in the morning as they were just exactly how I imagined them.
Flowers were also used to dress the bandstand where the ceremony was held, and they lined the aisle in glass jars on top of little tree trunks. We also had flowers as part of our table centrepieces in big vintage jugs and glass jars. Dotted among the flowers we had tiny glass jars with candles in, too.
Strides also provided all our chair covers (we had lace hoods with a hessian bow) and they also set out all the decorations – to my strict instructions!
The reception room was a really old part of the hotel, so all the walls were rustic stone. We dressed the pillars in fairy lights, which looked really good mixed with the ornate gold mirror and chandeliers in the room.
As with many venues, confetti isn’t allowed at Ringwood Hall, so I looked on Pinterest for some alternative ideas. We decided that we liked the idea of ribbon wands so me and the bridesmaids set up a craft session one night and made lots of wands with ribbons and bells. Our guests waved these as we walked back down the aisle and we got some really good pictures.
We had different favours for men and women. All the women got a little candle in different scents and the men got chocolate truffles. I found some DIY cardboard boxes on eBay to put the favours in. They were wood-effect and tied in twine so they matched with the theme.
Our cake was a four-tier semi-naked cake decorated with fresh flowers. It was made by my dad’s fiancé as a wedding gift. We had two tiers of plain Victoria sponge and two tiers of lemon cake and it was so delicious! It stood on an ornate gold cake stand to match the reception room and we wrapped an ivy vine around the bottom to match the natural, woodland theme.
Straight after our ceremony we had fresh strawberries with chocolate or sugar dip, and Bucks Fizz or beer – very summery and perfect for the hot weather! For the wedding breakfast we had bruschetta to start, braised beef or cheese tart for main, and apple and blackberry crumble with cream for dessert.
With regards to entertainment, my good friend Briony sang for us during the ceremony. She sang We Are Man and Wife by Michelle Featherstone and Wings by Birdy while we were signing the register, which kept the guests entertained and was a really special touch. She also sang I’m Yours by Jason Mraz as we walked back down the aisle.
At the reception we had the in-house DJ, who did a great job and people were up dancing all night until we got kicked out!
Later on in the night after the sun had set, we also had a sparkler send-off. This was a great way of including the evening guests in something special and it was a lot of fun – who doesn’t like sparklers?!
Following our wedding, we would absolutely recommend Ringwood Hall to other couples. It was the perfect venue – the building and grounds are immaculate, you get completely looked after, and the food is amazing. The day ran so smoothly which was mainly down to our fab master of ceremonies, Lyndon, who worked really hard and was really good fun.
For both of us, our favourite part of the day was the actual ceremony. I was really nervous just before the ceremony but as I walked down the aisle and saw all our family and friends, with Tom stood at the top, the nerves just faded away. It was everything I imagined it would be, I was just over the moon to actually be getting married outside! We also really enjoyed the reception as our close family and friends all love a good party, so there was lots of drinking and dancing and everyone had an amazing time.
For our honeymoon, we travelled around northern Italy for two weeks. We had been to Rome a few years back and loved it, so we decided to visit all the other Italian cities we wanted to see including Pisa, Florence, Bologna, Lake Garda, Verona and Venice. It was the best two weeks filled with food, sightseeing, wine and relaxing.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be, give yourself enough time to plan everything without rushing. It is meant to be the happiest day of your life, not a stressful day, so if you know everything is planned in advance it takes a lot of pressure off.
During the planning I was also obsessed with looking through all the real weddings on Brides Up North. I just love seeing how beautiful everyone’s wedding days are and I think you can always tell it’s the happiest day of people’s lives through their pictures.