Today we’re experiencing a little bit of French romance in the heart of Northumberland, as we relive Cat and Matt’s wonderful wedding day at the exquisite Le Petit Chateau.
Keen to let their personalities shine through, the couple devised their own vows, a customised food menu, and named their tables after places they had visited together. And breaking with tradition, they opted for a sweetheart table seating just the two of them at the wedding breakfast – perfect for spending some precious alone time together as newlyweds.
When it came to an overall theme and decorative feel for the day – this is when Cat’s (secret) Pinterest boards came into play, conjuring up lots of modern and stylish touches, with a beautiful palette of midnight blue, grey and copper. Needless to say, there’s lots to admire, so let’s get started and hand the blog over to the beautiful bride!
With images by Helen Russell Photography
Cat says: Matt and I got engaged in our favourite city in the world, New York, on New Year’s Eve 2015. Matt had booked dinner for us at a fancy restaurant and we’d decided to spend midnight in Central Park to watch the fireworks. So, after dinner, we took in the buzz of the city walking up to Central Park. We found a little hill that was away from the majority of people and waited for midnight. Then as the ball dropped in Time’s Square and you could hear the whole island counting down 10,9,8,7… the park erupted with cheers, fireworks went off and Matt dropped down to one knee. I don’t think I’ve ever been as overwhelmed in my life. I burst into tears and of course said yes.
We got married on 21st September 2018. We had wanted to book the 14th September (the week before) as this would have been 11 years to the day that we first met in Newcastle. However, as our chosen venue, Le Petit Chateau, is so good this date was already booked two years beforehand! So, we settled on the week after.
As my family are from Cumbria and Matt’s family are from Yorkshire we decided that we’d be happy with a venue anywhere in the North of England.
We knew that Le Petit Chateau was being built at the time, as we were aware of the sister venues. We popped along for an open day and as soon as we walked into the Belle Epoque there, we both looked at each other and knew this was our place. I immediately could envision myself walking down that aisle to my husband to be.
We wandered around the gardens and were amazed, it was really like being in the South of France and reminded us both so much of one of our favourite countries and one which I’d lived in for a year. We left for the two-hour drive home knowing we’d found our special place.
As an avid Pinterest user who had a secret wedding board prior to being engaged I knew all the wedding trends and had a firm idea of what I wanted. I always said our style was modern, stylish and simple. We wanted to incorporate trends but not to the point it would age quickly. And we wanted to include our personalities in the day. So, we went with midnight blue, grey and copper as our colours.
We were able to bring in our personalities through our vows and readings – a lot of which accidently featured our little dog. Plus, we named our tables after places we had visited (or were supposed to visit) together – I didn’t make it to Australia thanks to a broken ankle – and included photos of us at the places on the centre pieces. And as both avid foodies, we customised the menu to suit us, which included a pork pie wedding cake in the evening buffet.
I had a fairly good idea of the style of dress I wanted, but it didn’t stop me from trying on every shape, style and material just to ensure I was right. I did nearly end up with a different dress that I’d fallen in love with; to the point I’d said I’d be back to order it, but I had another appointment that afternoon and the last dress I tried on made everyone cry. I loved it, but I also loved the other dress. However, in this one I felt like a bride, plus it had pockets! The dress was designed by Stella York – an Australian designer who used a fabric so light and comfortable that I knew I’d be dancing all night in it. I paired it with the blue Manolos, which I always knew I wanted to wear as soon as I spotted them. I purchased my dress from Abigail’s Boutique in Leeds and they were wonderful. One of my favourite wedding memories is going in for the last fitting, having the place to myself and being taught how to sit in the dress properly, how to walk, how to hold my bouquet etc. The team were truly wonderful.
Matt knew exactly where he wanted to go for a suit after having a great experience with them for our best man’s wedding. So Slaters was the place where he and the groomsmen all got their suits. Matt wanted everyone in the same suit but wanted to have something different on him as it’s his special day too. So, we went with a different colour waistcoat to finish his look for the day.
Slaters were fantastic. Two of our groomsmen lived in Spain and Australia so they were unable to be fitted for suits until a few days before and they were more than accommodating for this, which really helped our worries.
I wanted the bridesmaid dresses to each be unique and something a little sexy, I wanted them all to feel good. I’d always loved Maids to Measure dresses. They had a Black Friday sale which meant I could get a dress for each of my bridesmaids that was perfect for their body shape and personal to them.
I don’t enjoy people doing my hair or makeup so was nervous to pick someone I didn’t know. Thankfully one of my bridesmaid’s best friends is a professional makeup artist. Kimmy Cattin was perfect for us, her style is all about making the most of your natural beauty, not hiding it behind layers of makeup. Everyone just looked like the best version of themselves. Even my mum-in-law, who never wears makeup, was over the moon with her look.
No travel needed as we stayed at the venue the night before. We hosted a small party in the pub attached to the wedding venue with our family, wedding party and close friends. We put on food and drink for everyone so that they could get to know each other and relax before the big day.
I had chosen my photographer before I chose our venue! I knew exactly what I wanted from my wedding photos and had seen Helen Russell’s work on social media for quite some time and had always been a fan. I wanted someone who really connected with the day, someone who caught all the smiles, the laughs, the tears, the nervousness – of which there was a lot from me on the day! Matt does not enjoy having his photograph taken so I knew that Helen’s approach would be perfect, and I was right. When we received the sneak peek photos we both burst into tears. I could not be more thankful for such a wonderful photographer who not only documented our day but supported us both when we needed it.
We searched high and low to find someone with a style that was natural, un-staged and caught all the little moments that make up a day. Mike at Moon River was the one for us! He was so easy to get along with and has produced the most beautiful film we could have wished for.
I knew I wanted to work with Amy from Thoughts of You are soon as I discovered her on Instagram. Her natural look filled with foliage was exactly what I was looking for. Apart from adding Amy to my Pinterest boards and telling her I wanted lots of foliage, white flowers and copper incorporated in some way into the bouquets and buttonholes, with copper stands and accessories for the tables – the rest I trusted her with. The end result was amazing! I cried when I saw the bouquets in the morning and was blown away with the way the rooms were dressed.
Amy from Thoughts of You worked her magic in our wedding venue too. All the flowers and table decorations were done by her. And we added some small touches, which everyone loved, to make our venue extra personal. So, we ordered lots of signage from Handmadebyrosestudio on Etsy. We made our seating plan based on our favourite destinations around the world, and included photos of us as said destination on each table.
I always think favours get left behind so was reluctant to spend a large amount of money on them. So instead our favours were personalized, laser-cut wood painted copper of each person’s name, which doubled up as name place settings. We also had a sweet table for guests, which was much appreciated later in the evening.
I love baking and was adamant I would be able to do the cake myself. We wanted something in our colour scheme and simple and modern. However, Matt came home one day with a cupcake for me to try, which was amazing! It turned out his work colleague’s wife owned a tearoom and made the most amazing cakes. So after having a taste and talking through flavours we booked her right away – Ruddi’s Vintage Tearooms.
Our food and drink was provided by Le Petit Chateau and was personalised to our wishes. We attended a menu tasting and found a bit from each dish that we liked, so asked the chef to pull all our favourite aspects together to make the dishes we wanted. This included mozzarella wrapped in Bayonne ham with sun blushed tomato salad, 12-hour slow cooked pork shoulder with creamy mash, green beans and cider gravy, and then crème brulee with a shortbread finger.
Drinks-wise, Le Petit Chateau were fantastic in ensuring that members of my family who are teetotal were just as looked after as those who were drinking. They ordered in non-alcoholic options so that they weren’t stuck with fruit juice.
In the evening we had another band of AMV’s come in to play a live set to get everyone dancing then played a playlist of everyone’s favourite songs to see in the end of the night.
Our personal vows turned out to be one of everyone’s’ favourite parts to the day. As a person who creates content for a living, I’d always wanted personalised vows. Matt wasn’t so keen. However, we discussed the layout of the vows together so that they would follow a similar structure and although difficult to read on the day due to emotions it really helped make our ceremony personal to us. We now have them framed on our wall at home and they always make me think back to that moment.
Matt and I aren’t traditional, so we didn’t want to follow norms. Instead we had a sweetheart table which meant we got to enjoy a little alone time together while watching our friends and family around us enjoy the day. It was such a great idea and one of my favourite memories from the day is being sat there with my husband and looking at everyone around us laughing and enjoying the day.
The venue had a photobooth which was a fantastic addition. It was a lot of fun and used all night. It gave guests who maybe didn’t fancy dancing something fun to do, and the photos captured made us laugh so much the next day.
We would 1000 per cent recommend the venue. The team before, during and after have been wonderful. Although it’s one of the most popular wedding venues in the north, we felt like we were the only people who mattered at all times. We were able to customise the day to how we wanted it, from the food and drink, to the table set up, to the ceremony set up. Our master of ceremony Tim was amazing. He was a great support to us throughout the day and helped everyone who had a role to play.
We’ve had such amazing feedback from all our guests, who said the venue was above and beyond anything they’ve seen of experienced before and it really made the day.
Seeing Matt for the first time was one of my personal highlights, as I spent the morning so nervous but as soon as I saw his face, I knew everything was going to be OK.
Our vows were another one. Matt was nervous to write his, he kept saying “you get paid to write, you’re good at it, it’s your profession”. But it turns out on the day I think his topped mine! They were personable, an opportunity to share how we really feel in front of our friends and family and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.
Our sweetheart table was another. Sitting on our little table of two looking out at our nearest and dearest enjoying themselves was really something special. I remember looking at Matt, squeezing his hand and thinking I’m the luckiest girl in the world.
Matt’s highlights were seeing me for the first time, being able to share a smile and make me feel at ease. Another highlight was seeing the great hall and how amazing it looked and knowing our vision had been brought to life. And walking out of the Belle Epoque as husband and wife to the sounds of John Gatenby and seeing all our family and friends smiling and cheering.
Immediately after the wedding we had a mini-moon back in NYC. We wanted to return there as husband and wife and enjoy even more places. We have our honeymoon booked for May when we’ll be taking a “honey-month” to explore Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Thailand.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be, stick with what you and your partner want from the day. It’s a day about the both of you. A day when you’ve invited others to share your public commitment and celebrate with you.
We were lucky in that we paid for the wedding ourselves so were able to outline exactly what we wanted without having to take on other people’s ideas. If your family are contributing towards the wedding, have an honest conversation about what their contribution means, does it come with an ask for certain guests to attend, or table set up, or suppliers to use. If so, you need to make agreements. Having this conversation up front with mean less upset and stress later down the line.
During the planning, I used Brides Up North for wedding inspiration. I always love to look at other real weddings, take inspiration from them and tips from brides going through the same thing I was going through.