Spring was the season of choice for Claire and Cai’s blooming gorgeous and personality-rich wedding, with the couple swapping their vows at elegant York wedding venue Sandburn Hall – home to lakes, rolling acres and an 18-hole golf course, no less.
Dare-filled ‘Golden Tickets’, a sweetie buffet and a three-tier cake made by the groom’s mum, are just three of our favourite details from this couple’s sun-speckled celebration. Also keep your eyes peeled for those gorgeous ‘Love’ lights, a foot-tapping ceilidh and that Enzoani wedding gown.
Prepare to swoon over the thoughtful details and rustic-esque styling – enjoy!
With images by M & G Photographic
Claire says: After six years together and one suspected proposal, I had all but given up on a ring on my finger. With me being a teacher and Cai a serving member of the RAF (a chef), we went on our annual winter holiday and pre-Christmas getaway to Geneva. As the weather was being kind and we wanted to make the most of the beautiful city, we managed to book a rooftop cheese fondue experience for the final night.
Cai had planned to propose a number of times over the day, but each time had felt nervous, so he decided the restaurant would be the place. However, he got so flustered that as I turned around, ready to go out, he got down on one knee and popped the question. Apparently, he had planned out what he was going to say but the nerves meant he could only manage: “Claire, marry me!”
We got married on 13th April 2019. With school holidays and military leave at the centre of our planning, we picked the only Saturday left of the year – the autumnal wedding we’d originally planned for would have been impossible as Cai was scheduled to go to the Falklands on military service in autumn/winter 2019.
Sandburn Hall in York was our venue. We looked at a number of different places but Sandburn captured everything we wanted for the day. Beth, our wedding planner, was incredible: calm, always available and great at making us feel nothing was too much hassle. The whole day was perfect from start to finish, with the combination of fairy lights and oak beams proving to be the perfect setting for our big day!
It really was the perfect all-in-one venue, with the in-house team looking after everything and helping to alleviate pressure and stress.
We tried to steer away from themes such as Disney – though that said, we did walk down the aisle to Tale As Old As Time from Beauty and the Beast and the reading was taken from Pocahontas! We squeezed plenty of personal touches into the styling and decorative details of the day; our table names, for example, were linked to points in our seven-year relationship, such as the ‘Partly Boiled Potatoes’ table.
On the tables, we also had plenty of fun alternatives to traditional favours, including disposable cameras with an I-spy challenge, bubbles, selfie props and a few Golden Tickets, which contained dares, to boot.
Having tried on 15 different dresses – all far from what I had originally pictured – this dress made me feel like a bride. The beautiful lace and fabrics, along with the button-up back added up to the perfect gown. The seamstress was able to work her magic in order to make sure it fit like a glove.
Groom & Groomsmen
Cai and the groomsmen all hired beautiful three-piece suits from Moss Bros.
The bridesmaids wore Jenny Packham dresses from Dessy. They were the most perfect and flattering dresses I’ve ever seen, suiting the smallest of bridesmaids (a size 6) through to a pregnant maid of honour.
Bow and Blush did my makeup. They’re fantastic and I would highly recommend them – but secure them early as unsurprisingly they get booked up incredibly quickly! I couldn’t fault them – they even managed to get our mums wearing false eyelashes!
Due to the venue remaining the same for the ceremony and reception we only had to worry about how me and the bridesmaids would arrive. With a nod to my late grandfather and his love of Rolls Royces (he had one in navy), we rented a 1950s Rolls Royce from York Cars Co.
M & G Photographic took our wedding pictures. Having carried out research and been to many weddings, we didn’t want to feel our wedding was invaded and taken over by photography! Patrick was the perfect option and had a highly discreet way of capturing the day as it happened. It was incredible: the two-man team were so subtle you would not have known they were there. Each picture was beautiful and allow us to relive our day and
remember moments that happened that we didn’t see or perhaps had forgotten about.
Laura from Mint & Moose was incredible. We gave her free reign to go with her gut and select seasonal flowers that reflected us as a couple and our laidback style.
The flowers were more than we could have wished for! The bouquets and table centres included sage, mint (a nod to Cai being a chef!) and Icelandic poppies (another military nod), as well as ranunculus, lisianthus and Sweet Avalanche roses.
We decided against traditional favours: instead we put goodies on the tables, including Golden Tickets for the eight lucky (or unlucky!) winners, selfie props, a sweet bar for the evening reception, bubbles, party poppers and an I-Spy challenge, complete with disposable camera.
We also put £1,000 behind the bar as a thank you – which was a gift well-used by some more than others!
Cai’s mum is a part-time baker from home and so she made our three-tiered masterpiece of fruit cake, Victoria sponge and a gluten-free lemon cake, too!
All food and wine was supplied in-house and we got to taste the options about three months before the big day.
We had a selection of canapes and prosecco for after the ceremony. The wedding breakfast started with a Caprese salad; the main was chicken wrapped in Parma ham, stuffed with ricotta and served with a tarragon sauce, as well as a side of chorizo risotto and spring veg; our dessert was lemon and lime cheesecake.
The Manchester Ceilidh Trio were our entertainment and we booked through The Alive Network. Having seen it at different weddings, I desperately wanted a Ceilidh and we are so glad we plumped for one.
An hour-and-a-half of dancing, laughing and the odd tumble – it was the best decision of the day!
We decided to put Golden Tickets on our tables, which were dares designed to liven-up the wedding breakfast and help break the ice! The challenges varied from eating the main course in a swimming hat and goggles, the groom’s sister wearing a bridal veil whilst saying “I’m next!”, performing a piece on the recorder… never has Baby Shark sounded so awful!
There are so many moments! From us seeing each other for the first time to the speeches, the dares, the ceilidh…too many to choose just one.
We are due to go to Bali for three weeks this summer and can’t wait. Straight after the wedding, we booked a four-day break to Loch Lomond, allowing us to unwind and officially start married life!
My top tip for other Brides Up North is – let the day be yours. Planning can be tricky, especially when you have families who want to help, and you need to get the balance right to make sure the day remains yours.
Also, get pampered! It’s one of the few guilty, ‘selfish’ things you can do, and an hour or two of peace is luxury as the wedding gets nearer.