Like a real-life fairytale, today’s enchanting real wedding takes place in a magnificent castle in the Lake District. Could this setting be any dreamier, we wonder?
Bride and groom, Francesca and Richard chose Appleby Castle in The Lake District for both their ceremony and reception back in August, with the glorious interior providing inspiration for their tres sophisticated red, blush and gold colour scheme, beautifully complemented by lanterns and a smattering of sweet avalanche and black barraca roses. Truly romantic.
Keen to put their own stamp on the day – the newlyweds peppered the wedding with lots of wonderful touches, from the giant Jenga game and surprise performance of La Vie en Rose by the bride, to the scrumptious chocolate Guinness cake and charity donations in place of traditional favours. Prepare to be whisked away by all the fabulous details!
With images by Ailsa Reeve Photography.
francesca says: We got engaged on 11th July 2017 on a beach in Amed, Bali at sunset. We’d had the best day – snorkeling, enjoying lunch with an amazing view, a bit of pampering and then Richard suggested a walk on the beach. I had no idea what he had planned but when he got down on one knee it suddenly clicked into place! We celebrated with cocktails, and later video-called our parents before heading off to dinner.
We got married on 25th August 2018. We’d always known we wanted a summer wedding, but we struggled to get a registrar at a sensible time – we didn’t realise for a few weeks that it was the bank holiday weekend! This worked out brilliantly as it meant that people had the extra day to meander home before getting back to work! So, it was obviously meant to be!
Our ceremony and reception took place Appleby Castle, Appleby-in-Westmorland. We chose it because we wanted a venue that would let us put our personalities into the day as opposed to making us fit into their formula. And how could we resist saying we had the run of a castle for day?
We didn’t have a particular theme but used the castle interior as inspiration. The castle is beautiful and had a real sense of history, which we tried to incorporate into our day. We chose wine red, blush and gold to fit with the castle’s aesthetic.
My chosen wedding was by Pronovias. I bought it from Fellside Brides Kendal and I honestly can’t recommend them highly enough – Holly and Gill are fab! I’d tried quite a few dresses and I was struggling with which one to choose. This was the dress that made my mum go “wow”, so that was it! My something blue was a beautiful pair of Celia Heels from the Perfect Bridal Company – I had lots of compliments on the day about them.
Richard wore a double-breasted grey waistcoat under a dark navy tailed suit jacket with grey trousers. Richard knew exactly what he wanted and ended up trying on suits back at home in Northern Ireland and found exactly what he wanted from Reds Groomswear in Belfast.
The four boys and the two dads wore morning suits similar to Richard’s, also from Red Groomswear in Belfast.
My flowergirl wore the Estella Maxi dress from Monsoon. She’s three-years-old so a pink and sparkly dress was her idea of heaven. My older bridesmaids wore a burgundy lace cap-sleeve gown from Ever Pretty. We had very limited time, so gambled on getting them online; thankfully it worked brilliantly and they both looked gorgeous!
Chiara and Becky from Chiara Murtas Hair and Beauty in Penrith came to the castle. They managed to do my mum’s hair, my three sisters’ hair, the bridesmaids’ hair and my hair in less than two hours! They were so professional, and everyone’s hair looked incredible. My hair even managed to survive the reception and my dancing!
Ailsa Reeve was our photographer and I would thoroughly recommend her. When we were getting ready, she laughed with us whilst not imposing. When I needed a calming word, she would offer support. She took control and calmly directed the formal photos which is no small task with two very large and very loud families! It felt like having a friend there to take our photos. And that’s not to mention the photos, which are truly beautiful – we genuinely can’t thank her enough!
Our videographer was Ben from Northwest Wedding Videos. I was quite nervous about the idea of a videographer as I’m not comfortable with being filmed but Ben was amazing. He met us before the day to make sure he knew what we wanted from the video. On the day itself, we barely noticed he was in the room. The footage he captured was amazing and I am so glad Richard persuaded me to go for it!
In terms of flowers, I carried a beautiful teardrop bouquet made by Sandra and the team at Appleby Flower Basket. There were stunning sweet avalanche and black barraca roses as well as eucalyptus and other foliage. Sandra managed to capture exactly what we wanted. She made beautiful hand tied bouquets for my bridesmaids, the buttonholes and an arrangement to go on the registrar table, all of which were beautiful.
All our families pitched in with decorating the castle on the Friday before the wedding. We decorated blackboards and set up a table with photos of our parents and grandparents’ wedding day. We also used candles and lanterns, which were lit in the evening.
Richard’s brother Steven helped us with all the wedding stationery, which was beautiful and made the day extra special. My mum created signs to go along the road to make sure everyone got to the venue safely as well.
In lieu of favours we gave donations to two charities, which are personal to us – Emilie’s Charities and Healthcare Ethiopia Partnership. Emilie’s Charities was set up in memory of Emilie Harris who tragically died in a road traffic accident. Her parents set up the charity to help give children and young adults in poorer areas of the world a better start in life and hope for the future. Meanwhile, Healthcare Ethiopia Partnership (HEP) is a group of midwives, obstetricians, paediatrics doctors and nurses who travel to Mekele in northern Ethiopia to help train medical professionals to make life safer during the vulnerable times of pregnancy, labour and childhood.
We had three different flavours of wedding cake. The top tier was a Victoria sponge, the middle layer was a carrot and ginger cake and the bottom (and biggest) layer was a chocolate Guinness cake. My incredible mum made and decorated the entire cake. She even learnt how to make beautiful sugar craft flowers from scratch which looked absolutely stunning.
The main wedding food was provided by Campbell and Rowley. We had an amazing tasting evening where we got to try three starters, three mains and my personal favourite, three desserts! Although it was a tricky choice we ended up with fishcakes or poached pear for starters, followed by confit of lamb on a bed of dauphinoise or mushroom risotto. Then for pudding we had chocolate plant pot with fruit and honeycomb garden.
The wines were provided by Appleby Castle. Following a tasting we chose Finca Beltran Tempranillo Malbec for the red and Chateau de Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc.
While having our photos taken, we had boules and giant Jenga for people to play with. Some of my favourite photos of the day are watching people enjoy these games in the sunshine.
For the main entertainment, we decided to have a live band. After a lot of searching online we found The Hot Jazz Biscuits. They did funk and soul and the dancefloor was never empty – they really were out of this world!
We tried to make our wedding as personal as possible. In the ceremony my dad played the guitar, which was something Richard and I both wanted from day one. My sisters did the readings and Richard and I had one sibling each as our witnesses. Our family is incredibly important to us and we wanted to know how much they meant to us.
We wrote our own vows, which meant the promises we were making were personal to us and included our own humour as well.
I also surprised Richard by singing La Vie en Rose to him during the speeches. I’ve sung at lots of family weddings, but I’ve never been able to sing to him directly. My dad and I had been practicing in secret whenever we could. Richard was totally surprised but he loved it!
We decided to have a jigsaw guest book instead of a traditional one. We bought it from Stag Design via their website. Their customer service is excellent and the product is fantastic quality.
Our confetti was supplied by Linda Warner from Country Blooms in Kent. Linda has been a family friend for many years but unfortunately couldn’t make the day. She provided the beautiful confetti which really shone in the pictures.
Looking back, it’s so hard to pick just one highlight from the day! But if I had to choose, I would say walking down the aisle and seeing Richard’s face. Hearing him recite his personal vows to me was amazing as well.
For our honeymoon, we flew to Mexico on the Monday morning to spend 12 blissful days away in the sun. We spent many days in Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula at a beautiful hotel called the Dune Boutique Hotel. We ate lots of tacos, drank lots of margaritas and got to spend time on white sand beaches. Richard and I aren’t the best at being beach bums so there were also plenty of opportunities to snorkel, visit Mayan ruins and explore the pueblo.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be – try to enjoy the planning process. It’s easy to get bogged down by the details, but everyone is there to support you and your partner, and honestly, they probably won’t notice if the ribbon colour is a slightly different colour to the tablecloth!
Also, remember to spend time with the person you’re marrying! The best comment I’ve heard about our wedding, both from people who were there on the day and friends who couldn’t make it, is how happy Richard and I look. I really believe that’s because we were a team throughout the process and made sure we had date nights regularly to keep us both sane!
During the planning I also read the real wedding sections on Brides Up North for inspiration and to pick up tips for ways to make the day more special. I was struggling to find suppliers within Manchester, so used the directory to see what was available too.