If dancing under the stars with sparklers sounds like the perfect way to celebrate with your new hubby, then we think you’re going to love Alex and Ian’s big day, which is simply everything when it comes to the perfect rustic, woodland themed wedding.
Choosing the quaint Spring Cottage in Lancashire for their reception, this venue was the blank canvas the couple were dreaming of, not only in terms of dressing and styling the space but also in giving them free rein over their catering. And with the bride coming from a food and beverage background – expect a creative twist! Think barbecue food, cream teas, wood-fired pizza and even s’mores as their guests’ favours! Oh, and did we mention the bride made her own wedding cake?
In fact, there are lots of very personal, DIY details to pore over today; from the venue’s floral arrangements and stylish décor, to the specially designed wedding gown which brings together some rather beautiful elements from three different dresses to create ‘the one’. Want to know more? Us too! Here’s Alex with all the deets…
With images by Bobtale Photography
Alex says: We got engaged on 15th September 2017, in my childhood holiday village – Llangrannog, Wales. I have visited every year since being a little girl. It was on the side of the mountain, overlooking the sea whilst the sun was setting. It was beautiful and a complete surprise, as was the Vera Wang engagement ring that he’d chosen himself!
We got married on 22nd September 2018. Our ceremony took place at Today’s Community Church – this is the church I attended with my family each week, so there was never a doubt that this is where I would married.
We held our reception at Spring Cottage, mainly because we could put our own stamp on the wedding – it was a blank canvas and they allowed us to do exactly what we wanted, as well as doing our own catering. The venue is gorgeous in its own right too – lots of fairy lights, fire pits and dancing under the stars.
When thinking of our wedding and choosing styles and themes – we had in mind a rustic woodland wedding. I’d say my colour scheme was what I deliberated over the most; I Pinterested so many palettes, but each suited different seasons. I went for ivory, navy, red wine, burgundy and rose gold – I love those colours and mainly chose this combination for what I could do with the bridesmaids, my flowers and the décor.
I knew the kind of style I wanted from the offset – and it wasn’t anything I had seen hanging on a peg. After one disheartening dress shopping experience, I decided I wanted to have it made, so I could choose exactly what I wanted! I approached Erica Stacey Bridalwear based in Manchester, and although she was slightly out off my budget, I decided it was worth the extra money. She sat down and got to know me first, asked me to show her every picture I’d pinned and what I loved about them. And we took three ideas from three different dresses to create mine. I was so happy with it on the day.
Ian and his groomsmen wore navy suits that were hired from Debenhams – they were teamed with tan leather Converse for the groom. My auntie made matching bow ties and pocket handkerchiefs from the bridesmaids’ material.
My flower girls all wore navy dresses from Monsoon which I bought in the January sale, paired with rose gold sandals from Next. My bridesmaids each wore their own design of dress, made by a local dressmaker. I hunted high and low for burgundy lace and eventually found some!
As our bridal party was rather large, we had two hairdressers. My cousin is a hairdresser, so she did mine and the flower girls, and the bridesmaids were all done by a local hairdresser. Our makeup was done by freelance make-up artist Esther Belfield.
I wanted our transport to fit in with our fairly casual theme, so we hired vintage campervans from the The Love Bus Wedding Company.
My brother is a professional wedding photographer and has photographed each of my siblings’ weddings, so I wanted him to come along and enjoy the day as a guest for once. I knew of Bobtale Photography through mutual friends, so naturally, it was an obvious choice for me. She matched my style – laid back and casual, catching moments and memories rather than formal photographs. I’d definitely recommend Robyn – she’s professional and all about the small details.
Oh my word. My flowers! I always knew I wanted Kerry from Wildflowers to do my wedding flowers – I love her and her work, and I love flowers! I knew my budget would have to be big for what I wanted. So, I was gutted when she was already booked for two weddings on my date. She said that she could do the bridal party’s flowers and mine but wouldn’t have time to do the venue styling – she was the one who encouraged me that I was more than capable of doing my own venue flowers.
My bouquet was everything that I had imagined and more – big and beautiful, packed with flowers and foliage. I didn’t want to put them down all day!
I made all the décor for the venue and church myself with the help of my friends and family, and mainly my retired auntie! We went for a bit of a recycled theme – we made bunting from coffee sacks and lace, collected amber beer bottles and wine bottles and decorated with fresh flowers and foliage, some stunning tapered candles (which I bought from Wildflowers) and tree log slices which I had cut from a local timber yard.
We had fire pits at night so we made s’mores as favours; homemade biscuits, giant marshmallows and chocolate tied up in a clear plastic bag with ribbon and a tag.
I made the cake myself – knowing I would have a lot to do in the lead up to the wedding I decided to make a ‘dummy’ wedding cake. Myself and my friend iced and decorated the dummies and then my auntie made a fruit cake which was already cut up ready for the guests ahead of time. I had an idea of making a tree stump as the bottom tier, and then a plain ivory cake as the second tier with edible gold leaf and fresh flowers. The theme of our relationship has always been about adventure, so I wanted to incorporate this into the cake – I made a little fairy door in the tree stump with a suitcase with a sign that had our hashtag for life: #mondayadventures.
As a business operator in the food and beverage industry, catering was important to us; one of the main reasons we chose Spring Cottage was because we could handpick our caterers. It had to taste good as well as look good! We chose Tender Cow from Altrincham Market, who cooked us steaks and lamb on the barbecue, alongside their own salads and sourdough bread. Everything was served in the middle of the tables and the guests helped themselves. We had cream teas for dessert and homemade chocolates which were provided by my own tea room Lily & Arthur’s. In the evening, we opted for wood-fired pizzas from Purely Pizza and toasted marshmallows for something sweet.
We used Lancashire Vintage China to hire our crockery and cutlery. They were prompt and professional.
As an ex DJ, Ian was very particular about what music was going to be played on the dance floor. We made our own playlist on Spotify and hooked it up to the venue’s speakers.
We created a video during the ceremony which played while we were signing the register. It was a collection of pictures of us both growing up with our friends and family and then pictures of us together and the places we had visited. Two of our favourite songs played whilst the pictures rolled. It’s a lovely keepsake too.
Spring Cottage was a bit of a risk in the fact that we were relying on good weather as it was mainly outdoors in the evening – although there was a plan B, I wouldn’t have been happy had we had to take the party inside! It’s a family run business and I went with them because there was so much flexibility with the venue, and because of their attention to detail – they delivered above and beyond our expectations and I could not recommend them enough! It’s off the beaten track and not many know it’s there, which is also quite nice!
I was looking forward to so many things on the day, I wanted to savour each moment and take it in! One of my favourite parts was seeing Ian’s face when I met him at the altar and saying our vows to each other. Dancing under the stars and fairly lights and having the most special people to share it with was also a highlight.
As we were renovating a house and paying for a wedding at the same time, we decided to postpone our honeymoon to Italy. After the wedding we took a minimoon to North Yorkshire in a cute little cottage which was absolutely perfect.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be, it’s your day and you only get one shot, so choose what you both want and what’s important rather than trying to please everyone. Friends and family will disagree with some of the decisions you make and may not understand why but stick to your guns – it’s your day.
Also, savour every moment – it goes way too fast. Take a moment for the two of you to be alone for five minutes and appreciate your day and all the people who have come along to celebrate.
I used many blogs and Pinterest for inspiration during the planning, including Brides Up North. It’s nice to read stories of real weddings that can inspire your day and spark new ideas, especially that include local suppliers.