If you’ve ever dreamed of having a chic city wedding, then today’s couple Hayley and Ryan can show you a thing or two about how to craft the perfect day. Tying the knot at the stunning Great John Street Hotel in Manchester, the couple didn’t even view any other venues as they knew it was ‘the one’ straightaway.
Showcasing their love for the city, there are subtle Manchester inspired touches to look out for, including bees, of course! They even featured the city’s skyline in their invitations and drew inspiration from this for the colour scheme – a dreamy pastel grey purple hue.
Swapping a traditional wedding breakfast for a rooftop barbecue, and wine for a pimped up gin bar – and then throw in a magician, DJ and Polaroid camera too – and you’ve got one very stylish, informal, fun-filled day. Let’s hear more from bride, Hayley…
With image by Kate McCarthy Photography.
Hayley says: Just before Christmas, on 20th December 2016, our baby boy was born two weeks early. He was born in the middle of the night, so Ryan had to leave shortly after he was born. Before returning the next day, Ryan had secretly headed to Manchester Christmas markets to buy some personalised Christmas decorations for our first Christmas as a family of three. He wrapped them in a beautiful box and presented it to me on the maternity ward saying “he had a gift for me”. I was putting off opening the gift as I was a little pre-occupied with the baby, but he insisted I open it. The decorations were perfect, I had taken them out of the box to admire them properly and hidden underneath was a wooden heart shaped decoration which said “will you marry me”. I was so surprised and it was just the best feeling ever, it was the most special wonderful time made even better! I cried the happiest tears behind the hospital curtain and said yes, it was definitely a December to remember.
We got married on 16th August 2018. We decided an August wedding would suit us because we love the late summer evenings and didn’t want to worry about the weather.
We fell in love with the first (and only) venue we visited – Great John Street Hotel in Manchester. It was perfect for us. We had both our ceremony and reception there.
We knew we wanted a city wedding. We had our first date in Manchester and Ryan spent a lot of time in the city with his friends skateboarding growing up. We just love the vibe and wanted something a little different.
We wanted an informal day with a relaxed setting which wasn’t too far to travel. It was perfect! The hotel itself is an old school house and has been beautifully converted into a stylish hotel. We were completely won over by the rooftop lounge and terrace which is where we chose to have our ceremony and reception. The rooftop has amazing views over Manchester and when we visited, the railings were decorated with pretty lights – we just felt so welcome and knew it was what we wanted for our day.
Although we didn’t plan to have a theme, we did end up having some small, subtle touches which were Manchester inspired. It started with our amazing invites which were of a Manchester skyline in grey ombre sunset colours designed by Frain & Grain. They featured a little Manchester Bee on the information page and we loved it and thought it suited our venue so well and was special to Manchester, so we incorporated this into our day on the decorations we used.
The colours from our invites inspired our colour scheme. The grey ombre skyline sunset colours felt summery so we used the colours as a guide. They were a pastel/grey purple colour fading into pale pink and orange. Frain & Grain designed us a welcome poster which matched the invites, and also a menu poster. The bridesmaid dresses matched the grey/ purple colour theme and all the flowers tied in the pink and orange.
I chose a beautiful, simple lace sheath dress. It was designed by Heidi Hudson from Wed2b and the dress was named Summer – ironically! I had seen it advertised on their social media and I instantly adored it. I tried on a couple of other dresses too which were different styles, but I just didn’t feel special, or like they were ‘me’.
The dress was ivory, with all over soft lace with an eyelash trim. It had a bateau/ boat neckline with capped sleeves and a low scoop back which I just thought was so pretty and flattering. It also had a train which was trimmed with the same eyelash lace as the neckline.
The dress was quite simple alone, so I decided to add a diamante belt for a little sparkle. The belt was handmade from an Etsy shop called Crystal and Pearl who specialise in bridal accessories. I was so undecided about a veil, but in the end I decided against it so I could show off the elegant scoop back of my dress. I decided to buy a sparkly vintage hair piece which was designed with the same gems as the belt – also purchased from Crystal and Pearl. I also bought a lovely pair of Kurt Geiger T-bar studded shoes in Ivory to complete my look. They were so comfy.
Danni Carrier from Flawless Wigan styled my hair and my makeup was done by Loren. I didn’t want to look too done up for the wedding, as I don’t get dolled up all that often and the pictures are to last forever! My main goal was to have clear skin for my day. I had been to Loren for a couple of trials and she knew exactly what to use and made me feel amazing. She was so lovely and really understood everything I wanted for both myself and the bridesmaids, and uses the most amazing products. Our makeup lasted all day and night.
I have been going to Danni at Flawless for my hair extensions and treatments for years so there was no way that she wasn’t going to be my wedding hair stylist! Even if it was her birthday! She made sure I felt completely at ease and happy with my look and did an amazing job with all the bridesmaids’ styles too.
Ryan wanted to wear navy. He chose his suit from SG Menswear in Leigh, not far from where we live. He wanted his waistcoat to be different to the groomsmen, so he chose a traditional, classic ivory one, complemented by a matching ivory tie and pocket square, which had very small subtle navy polka dots, which worked so well.
The groomsmen’s suits were also from SG Menswear, Leigh. The suits were the same style as Ryan’s but the waistcoats were navy, to make Ryan’s stand out. We bought the groomsmen Manchester Bee cufflinks to wear and keep from the ManBeeCo.
The bridesmaids’ dresses were from the Infinite Collection at Wed2be. I knew I wanted them to wear grey, but after spending months looking online to no avail, we found the Wed2b bridesmaids range. I wanted them to feel comfortable and happy so they all chose a different design and I ordered them all in silver/grey. The dresses they chose were named, Thea, Eden, Haven and Bella and they looked beautiful together. The dresses were floor-length so the girls wore their own shoes and I bought them all a pearl bracelet to wear.
My seven-year-old sister was my flower girl and she wore the prettiest dress from Monsoon. My mum spotted the dress which was ivory lace and chiffon and had a similar eyelash lace design to mine. She wore white shoes, also from Monsoon and a hairclip from Claire’s.
Kate McCarthy Photography captured our day. Kate is just amazing. We were evening guests at a wedding in 2017 which Kate photographed and as soon as we saw their photos – we knew we had to book her! She is so talented and we didn’t even want to look at anybody else’s work because her style was just perfect for us.
We didn’t want lots of posing, we just wanted our day to be captured as it happened, and Kate exceeded our expectations with the most perfect, natural photos and she didn’t miss a beat. She took us out to some great photo spots in Manchester – in an Uber! We just had such a great time and lots of laughs.
We also booked Hannah Kennedy at Kennedy films. She was so lovely – we didn’t even know she was there at some points but she did such a great job and captured the absolute best bits of our day. It brings back such special memories watching the video. We couldn’t be happier with it.
I carried the most beautiful bouquet made by Georgina at Blooms (in Bolton). She gave me so much advice on which flowers would be in season and which types would complement each other. She literally brought my dream bouquet to life! I had pastel David Austin roses and peach avalanche roses, with lots of beautiful greenery – it was to die for. I still can’t believe she managed to make something so pretty. She made smaller versions of my bouquet for the bridesmaids and matching buttonhole/ corsages.
For our reception, I had saved and decorated some clear glass jars of different shapes and sizes, and some recycled gin bottles. I used some ribbon and Kraft gift tags stamped with a Bee stamp from the English Stamp Co.
We wanted to decorate the tables and giant candlesticks provided by Great John Street and scatter the rest around the room to make it smell nice and to look even prettier.
Georgina, our florist, set up all of the flowers and decorated the aisle chairs with roses and giant Kraft ribbon. She did such a fantastic job – I was blown away when I had chance to admire the room. I never expected it to look so beautiful. Great John Street provided some faux twinkly candles in pretty jars too which they placed next to the table flowers and guest book, and I had bought some summer candles from The White Company which smelled divine. We also had bunting on the railings with some pom poms to jazz it up a little!
We gave scratch card favours and left them on the ceremony seating for our guests, as we didn’t have a traditional wedding breakfast. It worked really well. Each individual scratch card was placed in a Kraft sweet bag with a coloured peg and adorned with a stamp from the English Stamp Co, which read ‘lucky in love’ with our names and the date underneath.
We provided goodie bags for our younger guests with sweets and colouring pages and stationery to keep them entertained.
We chose a three-tier semi-naked cake which was decorated with real flowers provided by our florist. We wanted something simple and tasty! My dad had made us a cake stand from a tree trunk which he engraved our names into. We chose white chocolate and raspberry for the bottom and top tier, and vanilla cream for the middle tier.
Another reason why we loved Great John Street is that they had the option of a rooftop barbecue as a more informal style wedding breakfast. We loved this idea as we didn’t want to have a seating plan and thought our guests would love it as they would have lots of choice, and they could go back for seconds!
For our meats we chose Tandoori chicken and lime skewer, Porterhouse beef burger, Chimichurri minute steak, Bourbon & barbecue sauce ribs and chorizo and king prawn skewers. Accompaniments included corn on the cob with coriander butter,
Cajun spiced sweet potato fries, oven baked new potatoes with sea salt and rosemary, and tomato and mozzarella salad with pine nuts and basil leaves. For dessert we served walnut and banana brownie, and mango cheesecake.
We both dislike wine (unpopular opinion we know!) so the hotel set up a little ‘Pimp Your Gin’ bar for us. We selected some bottles of gin and whisky with several garnishes and tonics for our guests to choose from. We also had a beer barrow for those who preferred something else. We had never been to a wedding without wine before so didn’t know what to expect – it went down really well. For our welcome and toast drinks, we had summer Pimm’s for the ladies and Peroni for the gentlemen.
In the evening, we had mini pizza and fish and chip cones and wedding cake!
For our reception we had walk around magician, Ian Edgar. We thought it would be a good way to amuse our guests and break the ice during the welcome drinks. Ian was great and we had some lovely compliments about some of his fantastic tricks.
We also booked DJ Matt Rooney from MTR Productions. We wanted someone to get our guests dancing and for people to be able to request songs and dance to their heart’s content! He was fab.
We made a photo timeline of our eight years together, with one photo for each year and placed it on the entrance table so our guests could share our memories as they signed our guestbook. We love keeping memories, so we also placed an Instax mini Polaroid camera with hundreds of film on a table for our guests to take photos and leave with our guestbook so we could look back at the moments we may have missed!
Ryan also bought me a gift to wear on the day which was the most special touch of all, he had found a bracelet from Tiffany & Co which was beautifully delicate with the word ‘kiss’ in the middle of the chain (Kiss is our surname!)
We would highly recommend that couples take a look at Great John Street Hotel if they’ve not picked their venue yet. It’s so gorgeous and unique and can cater for any kind of wedding in their different yet very special rooms. They are so diverse and will do anything to make your wedding the best day ever. All the staff are so lovely and caring and will go out of their way in a heartbeat for you. They couldn’t have possibly done any more for us and we are so glad and grateful that we could be married there.
There were so many things which we loved about our day. We were so happy when we first saw one another when I walked down the aisle, it’s something we both will never forget, but we think that overall our favourite part of the day was simply looking around us and feeling so much love. We were so glad to be surrounded by our family and friends in such a beautiful place and it meant the world to us.
Our honeymoon is still to be confirmed! We don’t do things in halves – we moved house four weeks before our wedding and we are also expecting our second baby – I was nine weeks pregnant at the wedding – so have decided to put the honeymooning on hold so we can properly enjoy our time together! We have been lucky enough to see some beautiful places together, but we would really love to go to Italy in the future.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be; don’t get too stressed about little details that won’t matter! Just remember that it’s about celebrating your love and future together with those who care about you. And try to have a minute to take it all in!
During the planning, I found lots of inspiration from real weddings on the Brides Up North website and loved looking at the photos of the brides’ outfits and flowers. One of the ideas I sent to my florist was from a real bride photo in fact.