A rustic spring celebration is heading your way – prepare to feast your eyes on Emily and Tom’s gorgeous wedding, which took place earlier this year at Sandburn Hall in York.
After a traditional wedding ceremony held at a church in Tom’s parents’ village, the newlyweds took to woodland-set Sandburn Hall for their wedding breakfast and evening reception. From a donut wall to a protea-packed bouquet, this gorgeous wedding was filled with thoughtful details designed to celebrate Emily and Tom’s love story – as well as create the perfect party for them and their loved ones.
A striking palette of burgundy and pale blue was chosen for the celebration, with details including the groomswear, blooms and decor all tying the scheme together. Oh, and as for Emily’s dress, we bet you’ll swoon! Read on for all the details…
With images by Photography34
Emily says: We got engaged on 30th December 2017, halfway through a trip to Australia and Fiji. It happened on our last night in Fiji, and Tom proposed on our hotel balcony whilst the sun was setting behind us. I was hungry and wanted to go out for dinner but Tom was insistent we had to have another drink first. I soon realised why! After asking him why he was down on one knee (and telling him to get off the floor!) I said “yes” and my appetite was replaced with excitement.
Funnily enough, before we arrived in Fiji, we had been through four lots of airport security checks – one of which saw Tom stopped for a random bomb check! I watched his bag being emptied from the sideline, not realising what Tom had been carrying around for the last two weeks. Luckily I didn’t notice anything so it was still a lovely surprise.
We got married at Sandburn Hall on 16th March 2019. It was the one and only venue we looked at it! We really loved it and knew we didn’t need to look anywhere else, meaning we had to work with the availability they had. This didn’t give us a huge amount of options and as we knew we didn’t want the wedding to be too soon after Christmas – as well as that we didn’t want it to be too late in the year, either – springtime seemed like the best bet.
We hoped the weather would be kind to us but unfortunately it rained for the majority of the day! The only dry moment was when I was walking into the church, which, to be honest, we barely noticed. We had our couple’s portraits taken in woodland close to the venue and were stood in the rain for about 30 minutes – but we were so ‘in the moment’ that it wasn’t a problem. I just made sure to pack my wellies! I also ordered matching umbrellas for the bridesmaids the week before.
Tom is quite traditional and wanted us to have a church ceremony, so we decided to get married at the church in Appleton Roebuck, the village where his parents had moved to a few years beforehand. We had initially loved the idea of a barn-style venue but realised a lot of them required you to source external caterers, which we didn’t want to do. Sandburn Hall ticked all our boxes and Beth went above and beyond to help us plan our day, from advising on timings to chasing up suppliers!
Griffon Forest Lodges are nearby, so we stayed there with our families and wedding party from Friday to Monday, which was lovely as it meant we could make a long weekend of it!
We had a laidback, rustic approach when it came to our wedding theme – lots of wooden decorations, candles and eucalyptus. I purchased an artwork pack from Etsy which featured a pair of antlers surrounded by pink and burgundy flowers, and used this as an inspiration point for the invitations and orders of services. We kept a subtle antler theme going throughout the artwork on our table plan and menu cards, and we had an antler-shaped cake topper made by a seller on eBay.
We wanted the overall look to be coordinated by not completely matching. Tom’s favourite colours are blue and burgundy, which felt like good starting points. Initially, we were looking at burgundy bridesmaid dresses with navy suits for the groomsmen, but as our wedding was in the spring, I decided we should brighten it up with lighter blue gowns.
I had an idea of what I wanted before I started shopping for my wedding dress but I tried on a few different styles in a couple of shops before completely narrowing it down. I chose a strapless lace fishtail wedding gown from Sincerity, which was in a subtle blush colour. I purchased it from Brides To Be in Bradford – the team there made quite a few alterations to the dress, including the addition of beading, a belt and straps, which you would have thought were there from day one! Janice and her daughter Kerry were wonderful, and nothing was too much for them.
I wore my dress with a cathedral-length one-tier veil belonging to my cousin, which was my ‘something borrowed’. My shoes were by Coast and matched the blush tones of my wedding dress perfectly.
We loved the idea of Tom wearing something different to the ushers – originally he considered having a waistocast but then he decided to wear a different jacket instead. He bought his jacket from Reiss and matched the suits around it. His shoes were from Joseph Cheaney and they were the favourite part of his outfit! Tom’s tie came from Ted Baker and worked perfectly with our burgundy-and-light-blue colour scheme. The look was finished with a coordinating pale blue pocket square – and a burgundy buttonhole, of course.
The groomsmen wore navy three-piece Fratelli Uniti suits from Men’s Tweed Suits, which tied in with Tom’s waistcoat and trousers. They all had the same ties and pocket squares as Tom. We were quite last-minute with suits and only ordered them about a month before the wedding – but the jackets and waistcoats happened to have light blue detailing on them, so it couldn’t have worked out better!
I knew I’d struggle to buy a ‘typical’ bridesmaid dress and have all six of my ladies matching as one of them lives in Australia. I thought the easiest option would be to have everyone wearing a slightly different dress, meaning they could be bought from different places. However, when I saw the pale blue multiway dresses by Debut in Debenhams, I ordered them pretty much straight away. I loved the pastel colour, the cut, the multiway strap options, which meant my maids could style them however they wanted and no alterations needed!
The venue recommended Megan Boyne for my hair – as we’re not from the area, I took their word for it and booked her without looking around. Megan then recommended my makeup artist – Georgia Dixon – who we were really happy with too. They both bought an assistant with them on the day to help get through my six bridesmaids and I, and the morning ran so calmly and smoothly – to the point where I was actually running ahead of schedule for the first time in my life!
We hired a vintage taxi from York Pullman Buses to take us to and from the church. It was cream-coloured and tied with burgundy ribbons. The venue arranged to drive us back to our lodge at the end of the night on a golf buggy, which was a lovely way to end the day.
Our photographer was Tony Wilson of Photography34 – we loved the outdoors shots he takes and didn’t want a photographer who would take lots of ‘posed’ pictures. He had the perfect balance for us and as an added bonus, had worked at the venue before, too! He was brilliant on the day, seeking out the best spots for our photos so we could head straight there after the ceremony, and was on the ball with family pictures, meaning we were away from our guests for a minimal time. I had mentioned to Tony about how we wanted to have a photo with our dog, even though he would be staying at the lodges while the wedding was taking place. For Tony, this was no problem – he took us back to our lodge for the pictures we wanted! Tony’s photos completely exceeded our expectations and we’ll treasure them forever. We’d recommend him over and over again.
We tried to work off recommendations as much as possible, so when Tony suggested First Sight Weddings, we knew they’d be a good shout! Prior to this, I’d looked at loads of wedding videos and none had quite seemed what we were looking for. Gary and Martin were both very helpful and informative before, during and after the wedding. The thought of having a photographer and two videographers following us around for the day was initially quite overwhelming for us both but they just slipped into the background to their thing, and we hardly knew they were there.
Gemma at Topiary Tree Florist made our bouquets and buttonholes. I don’t know much about flowers but after visiting her with a mish-mash of ideas in tow, we decided on a wild hand-tied bouquet consisting of anemone, ranunculus and protea – and trailing amaranthus was a last-minute addition that finished it off perfectly! I loved it so much that I asked Jenny at Infinity Flowers to preserve it for me. The bridesmaids’ bouquets were similar but smaller. I was a little bit nervous about the finished product as it was the one thing that I wouldn’t be able to see completed before the day but they were all incredible and by far my favourite decision I made!
As we had 12 reception tables and six bridesmaids, we used their posies as tablecentres for half of them and lanterns for the other six, with tealights dotted everywhere in between. On the top table, the florist made a selection of jars filled with flowers and eucalyptus, which sat either side of a wooden box made by my dad, also filled with eucalyptus and candles.
I’m lucky to have a really handy dad, who loves to make furnishings and decorations out of wood – he was more than happy to take our table plan under his wing and build a stack of crates which we pegged the table plants onto. He also made a selection of chalkboards for me to mark up, an easel for a welcome sign to sit on outside the church and additional crates for confetti and flip-flops. I also decided to wrap some fairylights around an old ladder and popped a photo of each of our grandparents on there, along with a few jars of eucalyptus, which we felt was a lovely touch to those unable to make it.
To complete the reception, we decided to go for a package from Bliss Booth, which included rustic ‘Love’ lights, a photobooth, a donut wall (plus donuts!), a post box for cards, a candy floss machine and a popcorn machine. We’d originally said we’d leave any extras until later down the line once we knew how our budget was panning out but the offer was too good to miss. We decided to be a little different and opted for a GIF photobooth, which gave the option for normal photos too. It was a really good choice as so many of our guests went in and some of the GIFs are hilarious. We were unsure how popular the candy floss and popcorn would be but both the kids and adults loved it – and it made the reception smell delicious!
We knew we wanted to give our guests favours but we also knew they often get left behind, so didn’t want to spend a fortune on them. With this in mind, we bought 120 glass jars from Wilko, some personalised stickers from eBay and two large bags of Haribo hearts and rings from an outlet shop, and made up jars of sweets for each guest.
We had our eight nieces and nephews at the wedding so spent a bit more on favours for them – we ordered each of them a gift box from Etsy, which was filled with party-bag toys, sweets, crayons and a colouring book, as well as personalised with their name.
I love cake and Tom loves cheese – so we decided to have one of each! Tom’s mum is a fantastic baker so when she said she’d make our cake, we didn’t think twice about taking her up on the offer. She made a three-tier cake, which consisted of fruit sponge, chocolate sponge and lemon drizzle, all topped off with plain pale blue icing. Each tier was completed with a burgundy ribbon and the florist designed a garland of fresh flowers for the bottom tier.
We shopped around for a four-tier cheese cake and in the end ordered it from Costco. It arrived a few days before the wedding and was a completely fuss-free eprocess. Both cakes sat on a wooden log, which was positioned either side of a donut wall holding 90 donuts – the best part of the cake table in my eyes!
We had our menu tasting at the venue a few months before our wedding. For the main, I tried roast beef and Tom tested the roast pork. The beef was cooked to perfection, and was cut more like steak, to the point where I asked if this is what we’d get on the day twice as we just could not believe the size of it! Ultimately, we decided on duck spring rolls to start, roast beef for the main and baked Alaska chocolate brownies for dessert, which was a real show-stopper. Various guests have mentioned how good the food was which is really nice to hear – we felt a bit of pressure whilst choosing on behalf of 115 guests!
We booked Suzie and The Groove for our evening entertainment: they’re a band who are local to us, so we’ve seen them perform before and knew they’d be great. We have had so many comments on how good they were and on how busy our dancefloor was the whole night!
Originally, they were the only live music we had planned and we’d made a playlist for the drinks reception and meal – but about two weeks before our wedding, we saw acoustic singer Scott Keirs performing and decided to book him for the drink’s reception instead. It was a really last-minute decision but one we’re so glad we made.
Tom and I aren’t keen on being the centre of attention so the thought of walking down the aisle and saying our vows – and for Tom, the speech as well – was daunting. I also thought the first dance would fall into this category but by the time we’d all had a drink, it felt really relaxed – and I’d actually say it was my favourite part of the day!
We left a month-long gap between the wedding and our honeymoon so that it wasn’t all over in one hit! We booked a multi-city holiday in South Africa, visiting Cape Town, Stellenbosch and Kruger National Park, before moving onto Mauritius for eight nights, which we thought would be a great balance between adventure and relaxation. Due to saving for the wedding, we booked our flights well in advance but held off on hotel bookings until closer to the time. It was a little bit risky, sure, but it paid off – we saved around a third on the original booking cost and were able to book a hotel in Mauritius that we thought we wouldn’t have been able to afford!
Lots of people warned me about how quickly the day would go by and I completely underestimated how right they would be. The day flew by! As such, my top tip for other Brides Up North would be to definitely take a moment with your new husband to look around the room and soak it all up. A few people gave us this advice and I’m glad we did it ourselves as it was lovely to see our friends and family celebrating with us.
I’d also say if you’re unsure about something, don’t be afraid to double and triple check. I had moments throughout the planning process where I needed clarification or reassurance on what I’d arranged and all our suppliers were really happy to help, which put my mind at ease!
Brides Up North came in really handy when we were looking for venues, suppliers and inspiration – I loved reading through others brides’ real wedding stories for any ideas I hadn’t thought of myself!