Soughton Hall – a stunning Georgian country house on the border of North Wales and Cheshire – is today’s enchanting backdrop to Ashleigh and Rhys’ special day in early August.
Opting for a classic white theme accentuated by beautiful cleans lines and lots of shimmering glass, the wedding is a blueprint for a truly timeless décor and look. And, unconventionally, the bride even wanted her bridesmaids dressed in white, but eventually settled on an Instagram-worthy pastel pink shade instead. Equally divine!
Along with some utterly beautiful outdoor pics – there are plenty of other pretty touches and moments to pore over; from the bride’s gorgeous calla lily bouquet and confetti balloons to the stunning four-tiered cake and shortbread biscuit favours.
So, as we gear up for the weekend ahead – which for us, and you lovely brides-to-be that join us, will include spectacular Luxury Wedding Shows at Saltmarshe Hall, East Yorkshire, and Capesthorne Hall, Cheshire – we’ll leave you in Ashleigh’s capable hands as she talks though all her wonderful wedding day highlights – enjoy!
With images by Samantha Kay Photography.
ashleigh says: We got engaged while in Liverpool. Rhys pretended we were going to meet friends for the evening but took me for a surprise meal at our favourite restaurant, The Art School. The ring was hidden in the starter board which featured a number of small boxes containing different foods. I opened the box with the ring and the next thing I knew, he was down on one knee! Awkwardly, I had just taken a very fishy mouthful of the starter so was reluctant to kiss him after saying yes! We then continued with the seven-course tasting menu and then headed to Alma de Cuba to dance the night away with my brand-new rock!
We got married on 4th August 2018. It was one of the Saturday summer dates Soughton Hall had available for 2018, and we were adamant that the wedding needed to take place in the summer holidays as we’re both teachers. If I’m honest, I also liked the even numbers; 04/08/18 has a nice ring to it!
We were married at Caldy Church about 200 metres from my mum and dad’s house, where I got ready on the morning of the wedding.
We had the wedding breakfast and evening do at Soughton Hall down the road from Rhys’ mum and dad in North Wales. Rhys worked there when he was younger and we had walked past several times walking his dog and always said we’d love to get married there. We didn’t even bother to go and view any other venues – we knew that was the one.
In terms of the styling of the wedding, I wanted clean lines and modern simplicity so there was a lot of glass: vases and circular glass plates with flowers underneath on the table. I tend to take the reins when it comes to interior, fashion and design so Rhys was happy to let me run with ideas.
As for the colour scheme – this was white, white, white – you can’t go wrong! Also, its timeless nature was important to me.
I bought a Stella York dress from Liverpool Bridal Boutique during one of the designer days so it was brand new for 2018. It had a simple, fitted top half with racer neck and a crossed back with diamanté and pearl detail and buttons leading down to a dramatic tulle skirt. I tried on hundreds of dresses and was convinced that I wanted a plain crepe style dress and tried the dress on at the last minute. Everyone in the shop, my mum and myself decided it was the one as soon as I walked out of the changing rooms.
Rhys and the groomsmen wore navy Ted Baker suits with ivory ties, brown brogues and they each had a personalised tie clip with their initials engraved on them.
I was convinced I wanted all white bridesmaids’ dresses but finding three white dresses with the perfect style and fit for my girls wasn’t easy. I went to Coast and tried on one of their blush pink tulle and silk skirts and felt like a princess so sent them a picture and they all loved it. I then got white lace tops from Zara to fulfill my white obsession.
We did our own makeup! I’m really passionate about makeup and I knew my bridesmaids were all fantastic with their own looks so we all just got on with it. I did struggle with my eyeliner as my hands were shaking at one point, but I managed!
As transport, we hired a Beauford Limousine and Cowley Landaulette Limousine from Bespoked Wedding Cars in North Wales. The vehicles were immaculate, and the drivers were extremely professional.
Our day was captured by Samantha Kay Photography. She had already shot two of my friends’ weddings and I love her relaxed style. She’s also a lovely person and made us feel so relaxed on the day – she was just like another one of our friends at the wedding.
Our friend Ben also shot a drone video of the venue as everyone arrived which I loved!
My friend Nicola Saverimutto did our flowers, which were unbelievable. I remember looking around at the huge plinths either side of the top table and all of the centre pieces with my mum and we were just so happy with how it had turned out. I carried a simple calla lily bouquet which I think really complemented the shape and style of my dress. I also launched it later on during the traditional “throwing of the bouquet” and was really surprised that it stayed intact!
Other decorative highlights from the day included our “love” dance floor sign; wooden signs welcoming our guests by Danksy Arts and Crafts, a Polaroid booth, giant white balloons, confetti balloons on the dance floor and a wooden heart frame as our guest book. LillyBear also did all of our wedding stationery and were fantastic. We were so happy with the quality of their products.
Abi Smith from Abi’s Little Bakery – a friend of a friend who became a friend – made both my cake and favours. They were heart shortbread biscuits with marble-effect grey and white icing with “A&R” stamped on each one. They were absolutely delicious!
As for the cake, this was four-tiered with different sponges for each layer: Victoria sponge, chocolate sponge, red velvet and lemon drizzle. There was a marble effect icing layer, a blush pink layer to match the bridesmaids, a silver leaf layer and a plain layer. It was just perfect – better than I had imagined. And tasted unbelievable!
For the wedding breakfast we started with salmon filled with new potatoes and horseradish mayonnaise, followed by chicken wrapped in parma ham with white wine sauce, cubed crispy potatoes and green vegetables. For dessert, we enjoyed vanilla crème brulee with a warm doughy biscuit (this was our personal request). We also had a range of steak, king prawn, arancini balls and chicken liver canapés for guests upon arrival to the reception.
I had a flute of Blue WKD during the champagne reception as it’s my guilty pleasure! Everyone else had fizz or beer. We had red, white and rose on the tables for the meal.
Music-wise for the wedding, we had an ex-student of mine, James Bradshaw, to sing at the church and reception. He’s absolutely fantastic and it’s been lovely to see him go from strength to strength since he’s left school – watch this space. We also had The Mobile Party as DJ and he was good enough to film much of the evening do.
Following our wedding, we would definitely recommend our choice of venue to other brides and groom – it’s breathtaking and the service is faultless. Kayleigh was our coordinator and she was wonderful. She’s now another good friend! The Diamond package at Soughton Hall had some fantastic extras!
Looking back at our day, I can honestly say that I loved every second from start to finish and I love different bits for different reasons: seeing Rhys’ nervous face when I was coming down the aisle was lovely and watching everyone come together on the dance floor was the best feeling.
After the wedding, we went to five-star Minos Beach Art Hotel in Crete. We had a private villa on the waterfront with stairs leading into the sea and our own private sun loungers – bliss! The food was unbelievable, and the cocktails were even better! One week in paradise which was exactly what we wanted.
My top tip for other Brides Up North is, start getting ready early! The only time I felt any stress or nerves was whilst getting ready in case I was late! My other top tip would be to take in every moment and make a mental note. I got told that so many times before the big day and now I think back and remember so many lovely details.