Real Weddings

True Bride for a family-focused wedding at The Arches, Dean Clough Mills – Kathryn & Paul

Sarah Symonds

Industrial chic meets vintage glamour for today’s wedding. Our lovely couple, bride Kathryn and her new hubby Paul, walk us through the wedding planning and then down the aisle, at stunning historical venue, The Arches, Dean Clough Mills in Halifax.

Stripped back industrial Victorian vibes were the order of the day for birthday girl Kathryn and her double whammy of a celebration! Not too many brides get married on the same day as they turn the big 4-0! The newlyweds chose to have their ceremony and reception in the converted Victorian Mill, featuring high ceilings, old stone floors, chunky iron pillars and twinkly fairy lights aplenty, creating the most beautiful and intimate wedding. Pops of sunny yellow tulips looking simply lovely against the exposed brickwork – this could be the wedding planning inspo you’ve been looking for!

Kathryn looked radiant in a vintage inspired tea-length gown, but it was their daughters, Frankie and Flossie, who stole the show. The perfect family wedding indeed. Chock full of heartfelt special touches, family-friendly treats and the mother-of-the-bride’s speech getting us all emosh over here at Brides Up North HQ. And together, with their family team name for the first time, The Harrisons pulled together a day her dad would’ve been proud of.

With images by Darren Fleming Photography


Kathryn says

: It was Christmas Eve 2017. Our then two-year old was tucked up in bed whilst our seven-month old was conked out, sprawled across my lap. Paul suddenly appeared holding his laptop, apologising that my Christmas present hadn’t arrived. “I’ve ordered you a photobook,” he said, “Let me show you.” He pulled up a slideshow. The first page read, ‘Our story so far’ and I merrily clicked through the pictures, ‘awwing’ at the antics of our daughters, Flossie and Frankie. As I came to the photographs from our trip to the park the previous week, I read ‘Lots of memories. Would you like to make some more?’ As I flipped the page, I suddenly found myself staring at a sentence that made my heart flip: ‘Will you marry me?’ I was genuinely shocked but certainly very happy. And of course, it was a “yes” from me.


Paul and I got married on Saturday, 25th May 2019 – my 40th birthday! When it came to choosing a date for our wedding, we didn’t have anything in mind. May’s a special month for us as it’s when our daughters were born. We decided we’d add to the month’s celebrations and, as my BIG birthday fell on a Saturday and a Bank Holiday Weekend, it seemed the perfect way to celebrate. And now, there’s less chance of Paul forgetting our anniversary!

We got married and had our reception at The Arches, Dean Clough Mills in Halifax. I researched venues online and The Arches was the first (and last) that we went to see. We fell in love with the place as soon as we walked in. We were looking for something stripped back yet stunning. The venue is within a converted Victorian Mill and its brick ceilings, stone floors, iron pillars and beautiful canopy of twinkling fairy lights create a chic industrial vibe with a welcoming rustic feel. The place combines modern simplicity with historical charm and, in the words of our guests, it’s ‘beautiful’, ‘perfect’ and ‘so us’.


Whilst we didn’t have a theme as such, our wedding felt important because, not only did it see the joining of me and Paul, it cemented our family of four as ‘The Harrisons’. We couldn’t imagine our wedding without our two and four-year-olds; the pair of them running around causing havoc with a bunch of our friends’ children. Our wedding was designed to be child-friendly with lots of individual, creative touches; a welcome sign made by our daughters, table names dedicated to our girls’ favourite places in West Yorkshire, indoor lawn games and a dressing up box.

One of the things I loved about The Arches was that I didn’t have to worry about carpets, curtains, tablecloths and chair covers. The beauty of the place is its natural form. We chose to have wooden trestle tables and Chiavari chairs and a colour scheme really didn’t come into the planning. The room is neutral and stunning that way; it could be decorated in numerous ways and look beautiful each time. The only time I thought about colour was when picking my flowers.


I knew I wanted a vintage, 50s inspired, tea-length dress from the off. I’ve never really been into long dresses or ball gowns and I knew the style I wanted suited both my shape and personality. I did a little research online and came across True Bride’s Brighton Belle wedding dress collection. I found a list of suppliers and discovered there was a Trunk Show coming to La Fleur Bridal Shop in Middleton, half an hour from our house. I booked an appointment and when the time came, with the help of my friend Kelly, I tried on half a dozen dresses. Within the hour, I’d bought the one.

The ‘Aspen’ has a sweetheart bodice with beading and lace appliques over a tulle overlay. I loved its embroidered sleeves despite initially envisaging myself in a more strappy affair.

I knew I’d picked the right dress when, on my final fitting, my grumpy two-year old looked up at me as I walked out of the changing room, smiled, ran to me and started hugging my legs and stroking the skirt!


Paul, as I expected, was a very laid-back groom. He’d have been happy to rock up wearing a suit that had been hanging in his wardrobe for the last ten years and I had to enlist the help of my friends to convince him to wear something I’d never seen before. I’m glad I did. We decided he didn’t need to buy a suit, so instead, I packed him off to Moss Bros in Manchester and left him to his own devices. The boy did good. Paul chose a sim-fit, contemporary Ted Baker, faded blue three-piece suit and a silk, grey paisley tie.

Paul’s best man, Andrew, and the father-of-the-groom, John, wore the same Ted Baker suit as Paul, hired from Moss Bros. They were indeed The Three Musketeers, or should I say, The Three Stooges!


I’d found the team at La Fleur Bridal really helpful and I knew they stocked True Bridesmaid dresses that I loved the look of. My friend Eli who I met on our first day at Coventry University was my bridesmaid, alongside my two daughters.

I had every confidence Eli would pick a beautiful dress, so I introduced her to the range and left the decision to her. She chose a chiffon dress with a striking halter neck and lace-up back. I wanted to keep the colours neutral as, although we didn’t have a specific colour scheme, I was thinking of yellow and white flowers. Platinum seemed the perfect choice and it looked stunning.

I decided to stay high-street for my two girls and fell in love with an ivory, lace dress with ribbon waist and mesh petticoat from John Rocha. The girls couldn’t stop twirling around in their beautiful outfits.


The bridesmaids and I had our hair done by a lovely lady called Ashley Witter who I met when she worked in a local salon. She works mobile now, doing more nails than hair but I just had to have her for my wedding. She gave my girls their first haircuts, we’ve always chatted, I feel comfortable around her and have every confidence in her talents. I wanted my hair up and she created the perfect ‘do’ that incorporated my birdcage veil. I hadn’t expected to wear a headpiece at all but when my friend planted it on my head in the bridal shop, I was sold. It really finished off the look.

My make-up artist, Sarah Shaw is also a local freelancer whose work I’ve admired. I’m not really the make-up kind, give or take a sweep of mascara and a little lip gloss, and Sarah listened and delivered, creating the perfect natural look with a nod to 50’s glamour that I wanted.


My bridesmaids and I travelled to The Arches in a VW Campervan called Victoria! We hired our transport from Halifax based company, The Volkswagen Wedding Co. The beautiful 1972 dormobile from Hanover, with its original interior, rooftop windows and pastel white paintwork. It was a real novelty for my daughters. They loved it; especially when the driver hit the airhorn as we arrived at the venue. It echoed throughout the Mill complex and they couldn’t stop giggling.


Darren Fleming from Sowerby Bridge was our photographer. He did a fantastic job. We absolutely love our pictures. We wanted him to capture our wedding as it happened; not posed or staged but just very real moments. His photographs certainly express the excitement and the emotion of the day. It’s lovely to look at them and see the day in action through other people’s eyes as well as remembering the day as we experienced it. Even in the more formal shots, Darren encouraged us to have fun, to laugh and just be ourselves. This resulted in lots of happy memories captured for us to look back on. Darren takes beautifully natural photos; it’ll be a big decision to decide which ones we’ll have on display. He comes highly recommended.


All our flowers were provided by Tabby of Mode For Events. The aisle was lined with vases of tulips to match my bouquet, alternated with candles. At the end of the aisle, a suspended branch of yet more yellow and white tulips hung upside down from the ceiling. It was beautiful.

The flowers on our tables were displayed in beer bottles, a nod to Paul’s love of craft beer, and were set amongst foliage, adding an extra hint of greenery to the room.

I carried a simple yet stunning hand-tied bouquet of yellow and white tulips, my favourite flowers, provided by Tabby. As I lost my dad five years ago, I wanted to imagine him by my side as I walked down the aisle. Using an ivory ribbon, Tabby tied a charm with his photo in it onto my bouquet.


As a family, we love cake. Especially chocolate cake. Wedding cakes are so expensive, and we didn’t really know what to go for, so when I spotted the Colin and Connie Bride and Groom Caterpillar Cakes by Marks and Spencer, I knew they were for us. We also ordered a few dozen of the mini Connie and Colins and they went down a treat with the kids. I bought a cake stand from a retired cakemaker; her husband had made it from plywood and artificial grass, and my florist decorated it with flowers and greenery. It was a lovely temporary home for Connie, Colin and their caterpillar kids.


We wanted to give our guests a little something to say thank you for coming to our wedding, but I didn’t want to just dish out a gift that would end up being stuck in a drawer. We decided on scratch cards as we thought they’d offer a little competitive fun amongst the guests. The scratch cards were placed on the tables in small Kraft brown envelopes and decorated with a little string, through which a tag, stamped with the guests’ names were threaded, meaning the favours doubled as our place cards. My own bit of wedding DIY. I also glue-dotted pennies (for scratching and for luck) inside the envelopes which were sealed with personalised thank-you stickers. In keeping with the ‘money favour theme’, the children received chocolate coins, prettily packaged in hessian bags.


The Arches held a tasting event where we could sample the food and wines available for our wedding breakfast. We had a fantastic night and the only problem was deciding what to go for! It was all delicious. In the end, we plumped for a starter of ham hock served with homemade piccalilli, micro-herbs and rustic bread. We decided to mark our move to Yorkshire four years previously by serving up traditional topside of Yorkshire beef with roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables and of course, Yorkshire puddings. Our daughters wouldn’t have let us have any other dessert besides the baked chocolate brownie with chocolate sauce and clotted cream.

When it came to the children’s wedding breakfast, we played it safe with chicken, chips and sweetcorn, followed, of course, by chocolate brownie.

We selected a red and a white wine for each table, however, Paul was more concerned that there was a fine selection of craft beer available for his beer-loving mates (and him). The Arches were happy to buy-in the drinks we wanted, including the aptly named ‘Mr and Mrs’ from Hebden Bridge’s Vocation Brewery.

In the evening, it was sausage butties and chicken burritos all round.


Paul and I are both big music fans and wanted our day to feature live artists. We saw Michael Mulholland, a talented singer and guitarist at a local wedding fayre and snapped him up. He has such a wide range of songs that you can choose from and we found lots that suited both our tastes. Michael played as our guests arrived, he saw me up the aisle to his version of Ben E King’s Stand By Me and he took the time to learn one particular song that we wanted to walk back down the aisle to (Then He Kissed Me as featured in my favourite film, Adventures in Babysitting). Michael’s music was perfect for the more intimate setting of the actual wedding and equally as brilliant for creating a fun, chilled-out atmosphere at the drink’s reception.

In the evening, we wanted to get everyone up on their feet, providing live music that everyone would enjoy. Paul and I love a bit of Motown and Northern Soul, and Carly and The Kicks were recommended to us by our wedding coordinator at The Arches. We booked the seven-piece band and they certainly put on a dynamic show, featuring much-loved songs from the 60s, 70s and beyond. Their funky soul and disco grooves delivered the party atmosphere we wanted.

Special touches

My dad, who I sadly lost in 2014, was an important part of our day. I created a memory ladder in his honour with photos of the two of us together, a poem and a candle lit in his memory. It touched a lot of hearts. I loved that a guest left a glass of brandy, my dad’s favourite tipple, next to his photo. One of my favourite photographs taken on the day was captured during my mum’s ‘father-of-the-bride’ speech. You can see the pure happiness streaked with sadness on my face as she spoke about how happy my dad would have been to see me and Paul get wed.

Paul and I had decided against canapes due to the timing of the wedding, however, as it was my birthday, I decided a birthday cake wouldn’t go amiss. With chocolate cake already on the cards, in the form of our Caterpillar Wedding Cakes, I bought a Cheese Celebration Cake from Tesco and stuck a candle in the top! With crackers and chutneys, the cheese was served alongside our ‘Pimp Your Prosecco Station’ where guests could add their own fruit, puree and even glitter to their fizz. We didn’t want to leave the kids out, so we made mini buckets of sweets and created a mocktail for them. The ‘Fantastic Friendship Fizz’ was a concoction of apple juice and elderflower, with a splash of lemonade, garnished with Haribo friendship rings. The wedding programmes also had mini packets of ‘Love Hearts’ tied on to them. Talk about keeping everyone sweet!

During the speeches, we wanted to make sure our younger guests didn’t end up a little bored (no reflection on the speakers of course!) so I’d raided my local pound shops for a grand selection of toys, puzzles and other bits and bobs, popped them in boxes that the kids got to go through a few minutes before the speeches started.

We enlisted the help of Add Vintage, a prop hire company, to create us an indoor games garden, with artificial grass, bunting, picket fence, trees, deckchairs and Hook a Duck; and we picked up our own Hoopla, Giant Noughts and Crosses, Skittles and Limbo from Sainsbury’s for a reasonable price. The ducks went down a treat with the littlies and the tweenagers congregated contentedly on the chairs.

In the lead-up to the wedding, I’d listened to quite a few of my friends question the comfort of the new shoes they’d purchased for the occasion. I wanted everyone to be up dancing so I put together a box of flip flops that guests could help themselves to if their feet got tired or sore. And help themselves they did. Not a pair left.

We hired ‘Herman’ the VW Camper Van Photobooth from The Volkswagen Wedding Company (the same place our camper van transport came from). Herman was a roaring success. The kids (and the adults) couldn’t get enough. We couldn’t stop laughing at some of the shots the children created (and how many times they’d paid Herman a visit).

Thanks to

The Arches looks amazing on photos and even more so in real life. We immediately loved the look of the place and the wedding coordinator really impressed us with her “yes, we can” attitude. Throughout the process, the team were always helpful, friendly and flexible; allowing us to create a wedding unique to us. So, thanks to them! The Arches is beautiful, and you’ll get all the help you need to create the wedding you really want, in a truly stunning setting. Everything on the day went to the plan. We couldn’t have asked for more and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend The Arches.

Best bit

My favourite part of the day was the ceremony. I loved following my bridesmaids up the aisle to where Paul was waiting for me. The beautiful room, the live music, the stunning flowers and the fact that all our family and friends were gathered there, had me feeling amazing! The registrar was lovely, and the ceremony was very relaxed with lots of laughter. I tried to put Paul’s wedding ring on not only the wrong finger, but the wrong hand and when I did get the right hand, I couldn’t get the ring on! There was plenty of laughter and I loved that our daughters were able to watch us get wed. Our four-year-old looked completely awestruck and proud.


We decided we wanted to do something a little different for our honeymoon and after much deliberation, we picked a Baltic Cruise. Totally the right decision. We visited Copenhagen, Tallinn, Helsinki, Stockholm, St Petersburg and Skagen – all truly fantastic places. One of my favourite days was in Skagen; we hired bikes with trailers and rode right along the coast, stopping off to paddle in the sea and tuck into a delicious Swedish platter of meats, cheeses and fish. As it was a family holiday, we chose to cruise with P&O who offer a Kids’ Club that catered perfectly for our two-and four-year olds. The girls couldn’t get enough; they repeatedly asked to go, which meant we got to enjoy some quality time as a pair of newlyweds. I even managed to do a couple of cookery courses onboard.


My top tip for other Brides Up North would to be to follow your heart. When it comes to making decisions about your wedding, think about what YOU want and go for it. We wanted a wedding that was really family orientated so we put every effort into ensuring the younger guests would be happy, and in turn their parents would enjoy the day more too.

I’d say don’t be afraid to challenge tradition; there are no rules. I walked down the aisle on my own, I didn’t have a floor length wedding dress, we didn’t have a top table and my mum made a speech. Make your day work for you.

During the planning I loved browsing online for ideas. As the saying goes ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ and I enjoyed looking at the photographs from real weddings on Brides Up North. There’s so much you can include in your wedding day and the photos helped bring ideas to life and help me envisage how our own day would unfold. Just looking at dresses, flowers, venues, décor, transport etc fills you with inspiration. The photos also helped me decide the style of photography I wanted to remember our wedding by.

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