Cuddle up brides-to-be, Victoria and Simon’s gorgeous autumn wedding is about to give you all the seasonal feels.
After an up-in-the-air marriage proposal left Victoria and Simon with five months to plan their dream ‘I do’ moment, the couple decided to plan an autumn-themed wedding at gorgeous North East venue (and Georgian manor to boot!) Shotton Grange, in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.
Their special day was filled with a warm seasonal palette, heartfelt details and a lot of conkers. Read on for all the fine details…
With images by Rachael Fraser Photography
Victoria says: The night before he proposed, Simon had picked me up from the airport (I’d been on an adventure holiday to Peru with my friend). We had agreed to keep our weekend free and the last thing I had expected was for him to say when we got home that we would be going out for the day with friends – and tired from 24 hours of flying, I definitely didn’t anticipate it would be with our friends Chris and Tracey, who own a flying school called Scenic Air Tours North East. As I understood it, they had accrued some flying hours that needed using and Simon couldn’t pass the opportunity up – so off we went!
Above Newcastle, we circled the Angel of the North, which was where we had visited on our first date, and then the Strawberry Hill Farm Caravan Site. Simon said: “Vicky, look down there – there’s a sign in the field!” I shrugged it off and he said again, a slightly different tone in his voice: “Vicky, look there – at the sign in the field.” I looked down and there was indeed a huge sign in the field, which read: “Victoria, will you marry me?” and was surrounded by campers who were waiting for the plane to dip its wing if I said ‘yes’.
We got married on 29th October 2018 at St James Church in Benwell, Newcastle, with our reception held afterwards at Shotton Grange in Blagdon, Northumberland. We had looked at several reception venues and each had had things we would have liked to change.
After seeing a social media ad, we booked to visit brand-new venue Shotton Grange. We entered the gates and carried on along a small drive that led us to the front of the impressive Georgian House where we were greeted by a friendly face and shown around the house and grounds. Inside felt stately yet homely, grand but understated. As we peered out of the front windows onto the lawn adorned with an avenue of trees my excitement grew and Simon felt the same way.
As we got back into the car with grins on our faces we agreed Shotton Grange was where we wanted to celebrate our big day – although it was a venue big enough to host a wedding it was also small enough to feel close to all of our guests and with it being so close to Newcastle it was convenient for those who travelled from Teesside.
We opted for an autumnal theme – we both love the season and it’s a cosy time of year when everything looked rustic and rugged. Plus, there’s always a lot going on around autumn, including family birthdays and Halloween – we’re both fans of a great Halloween party – whilst Simon’s family always hold a getogether around Bonfire Night. It’s the season of beautiful transitions and glowing sunsets.
We chose an autumnal colour palette to set the look for the day: warm and moody colours, including navy, burnt orange, reds, greens and browns.
I wore a dress called Nadia, which was from Ronald Joyce’s Victoria Jane collection. I got it from Bride’s Dream in Walkergate, Newcastle, which had been recommended to me by many of my work colleagues. I loved the simplicity of the A-line silhouette and it had just the right amount of sparkle thanks to the illusion neckline and belt. And I fell in love with the trail of buttons that led all the way down to the hem! Dawn and Lesley couldn’t have been more helpful and both had the patience of a saint.
My hairpiece and veil were also from Brides Dream; my shoes were from Paradox London and I wore two shawls on the day: one a lilac flowery scarf with acorn motifs from Joules and a blanket from the Tartan Co.
Simon chose a three-piece navy suit, which he wore with a white shirt and burnt orange tie, with the special addition of a pocket watch that had belonged to his late grandfather and was given to him by his nana. He hired his suit from Suits Direct at Dalton Park. He also wore cufflinks that had little pinecones burned onto them for detail.
Simon’s groomsmen also got their suits from Suits Direct; they attended separately for fittings it made things much easier than we initially thought given that everyone was available at different times and measurements were initially taken across continents!
I had always imagined my bridesmaids – my sister, my cousin and my best friend – would wear long, olive green dresses. However, planning our wedding over the summer months meant olive green was not an easy colour to find! We stumbled across a grey/lilac (this is still debated to this day) maxi dress in the Coast sale that I thought would complement all of their figures perfectly – though there was only one on the rail. In the days after, I frantically hunted down the dress in several sizes, which resulted in seven dresses for three bridesmaids. I was pleasantly surprised when each one of the bridesmaids tried them on and in turn felt comfortable in them and looked fantastic. It was so easy!
Our goddaughter was flower girl. Her little dress was an eBay bargain and so was her matching pyjama suit. I loved the flower belt detail – as she was only 11-months-old at the time, I wanted her to be able to wriggle around without restriction and not have to hold onto flowers and so the detail on the belt helped incorporate them. Our florist Valerie made her a simple gypsophila headband; at the time she was obsessed with waving things in the air and so it seemed fitting to recycle a wand from her parents’ wedding!
Our family hairdresser – who has cut my hair for years – insisted on doing my hair as a wedding gift, and also included my bridesmaids’ hair and my mum’s do within that, too! There was something very comforting about the normality of having Julie doing my hair on the wedding morning – it put me at ease as if I was in my mam’s kitchen, having my hair styled as normal.
Becky Cook did my makeup – I got in touch with her after discovering her Facebook page. I was nervous about having my makeup done professionally as I wanted to look natural, and Becky did an amazing job. The makeup was light and comfortable to wear, and she incorporated autumnal shades of gold and burnt orange into the palette. She also helped me source lipsticks to give to my bridesmaids as gifts. She felt like a friend who I had known for years – she’s so easy to chat to
We stayed at Shotton Grange along with close family and the bridal party on the evening before the wedding. Simon stayed in the cottage with his groomsmen whilst I stayed in the bridal suite.
On the wedding day, I travelled to the church with my dad in a champagne Jaguar Mark 1 hired from Northumbria Classic Car Hire in Gosforth. Our chauffeur was so friendly and more than happy to detour to the Angel of the North for some photographs whilst the rest of the guests found their way back to Shotton Grange for a champagne reception, allowing Simon and I to excitedly get used to the fact we were now married!
Rachael Fraser was our photographer. She was recommended to me by a colleague and when I looked at her portfolio, I was excited to share it with Simon. We were confident Rachael would capture the autumnal feel of the wedding and we liked the way her photos captured natural moments. We asked her to supply a second shooter and she chose Fiona Saxton.
When we look through our photos, the emotion of the day comes flooding back – both Rachael and Fiona captured so many special moments and our guests have since commented on how they did not know the camera was on them, which is a testament to the non-intrusive photography style we wanted.
Dan Lewis at We Were Here was our videographer; he specialises in cinematic videography. The editing process ran over the Christmas period, meaning the anticipation kept building – and when we received the link to our video we were blown away. It was worth the wait! The footage Dan used to compile the four-and-a-half-minute video was just perfect. It transported us right back through the day from beginning to end. The speeches were used to narrate the day and the way the music built up throughout was so emotional.
Photographs and video footage were very important to us both – and luckily both our photographer and videographer were willing to give it a go with the smoke bombs we brought with us. Those shots are some of our favourites!
I chose Valerie Rose Florist in our hometown of Billingham to sort out our flowers – I showed Valerie a photo of a bouquet I liked and what she produced was truly beautiful! I didn’t know the names of any of the flowers within my bouquet, I just presented the picture and Valerie did the rest. The bridesmaids’ bouquets were smaller versions of my own, and the buttonholes and corsages were in similar colours. They were so special to me that I had them made into paperweights for the bridesmaids, our mums and our grandmothers as Christmas presents.
I gave Valerie several recycled Lyle’s Golden Syrup and Black Treacle tines to fill with simple sprays of flowers and foliage. I had also sent her a photograph of some miniature pumpkins, which I had fully intended on buying before the wedding but had run out of time to do so – and to my surprise, and without me asking her to do so, Valerie had bought them herself and dotted them around the tables – it was a really lovely gesture.
Our table plan was made from a tree that Simon’s parents had chopped down from their garden. Each table was named after a tree and Simon’s mam burned the names of each guest onto logs named after each table which we stacked together in the fireplace in the reception room. On the tables were framed pencil drawings of the trees with their names.
We bought geometric copper lanterns from The Range and over the weeks and months leading up to the wedding friends and family collected bags upon bags of acorns, pinecones, ferns, berries and conkers which we used to fill the lanterns and then placed fairy lights inside. Simon drilled hundreds of the conkers to keep guests entertained during the champagne reception, some of my favourite photos are of guests duelling!
Our friends and family also collected petals and dried them over the summer for our confetti – we saved a lot of money doing this and as they were natural the church were more than happy for us to go ahead with the idea. The confetti photos in particular remind me of how all of our friends and family helped towards the wedding by helping us to collect petals and autumnal delights.
Simon made a photo booth out of copper piping and we draped some fabric and foliage over it. We used a mini printer with Bluetooth connection for people to print out their selfies and provided a book and pens for them to leave a little message beside their photos. The props were bought online.
We had a selection of inks and asked everyone to put a fingerprint on a drawing of a tree instead of a traditional guest book, in keeping with the autumn theme.
The conkers also provided entertainment and brought out everyone’s competitive streaks.
Our favours were chocolate toffee apples; each one had a tag on it which read ‘Victoria and Simon, Apple-y Married 29th October 2018’. We gave the children chocolate hedgehogs and colouring books in an attempt to keep them entertained during the speeches.
We wanted a simple white wedding cake. Simon’s grandparents made the bottom and top fruitcake tiers, and a friend from work made a middle tier of carrot cake, and also iced the whole thing. We added pinecones collected by our godson to decorate.
We are big foodies, so opted for traditional English roast dishes for the wedding breakfast. Shotton Grange provided us with a fantastic choice of three dishes and also catered for those who were vegetarian or halal. All the meals used autumn produce. Roast beef, roast pork, roast chicken and butternut squash, spelt and cumin risotto washed down with red or white wine and a choice of sticky toffee pudding, creme brulee and cheesecake. We served hot apple cider along with teas and coffees to keep the theme running.
Shotton Grange provided a resident DJ. We had discussed whether to get a band or a musician to play during the champagne reception but both agreed they were unnecessary – many of our friends and family just enjoyed catching up and getting to know each other and by the time it came to dancing, the DJ played a fantastic range of music and everyone was more than happy after a tipple to indulge in a boogie.
Shotton Grange created such a magical atmosphere; there was space to spread out but it was small enough to feel close to everyone. It is local to Newcastle and easy to get to. The team welcome you with a friendly smile at every visit and listen to your ideas and help you get organised without feeling the pressure. We received many compliments about the venue and people who lived locally were surprised they hadn’t heard of it before but it is a new venue and so word hadn’t quite got out – I believe it will become increasingly popular with every wedding that takes place as the photographs are seen.
Each element of our wedding played a special role in making the day so special and it really is tough to pick just one part. Taking time out after the ceremony to drive in the vintage car to the Angel of the North where we had our first date and being there together as a married couple was a really special feeling.
We both went straight back into work after the wedding and so our honeymoon was planned for seven months after we married. We did spend the night after our wedding in Tynemouth, at the Grand Hotel, which was lovely.
We’ve just returned from Italy; we wanted a honeymoon that would be both a welcome break but have lots for us to explore and Italy was perfect for this! We did a trip from Pisa to the Amalfi Coast where we visited Florence, Lamporecchio (near Vinci in Tuscany) Rome, Pompeii, Naples and Raito, close to Salerno. We stayed in Airbnbs to minimise the cost and give us a sense of living amongst the locals; it really enhanced our holiday.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to try not to feel pressured into following trends and spending extra money if there are things that you feel you would like to do yourselves. Ask for help, especially if expensive elements, such as the photographer and videographer, are important to you. The money saved by a bit of DIY can help justify spending more on the more costly things.
It’s easy to keep things close to your chest because you want to give people surprises – but on the flip side, people who might want to get involved and help you can feel shut out. Both sets of parents did not want to tread on our toes but when we eventually asked they were overjoyed and had been waiting for us to give them something to help with getting things ready. Both family and friends helped us with things like printing out signs for the venue, making place cards, invitations – it is such a great opportunity to spend time together before the wedding and celebrate, having people get involved helps to build the excitement and make fond memories.