Love well and truly blossomed alongside the pretty spring flowers this April at Fran and Joe’s English country garden style wedding, in the unusual but beautiful setting of an incredible old Yorkshire boat house turned local canal visitor’s centre.
Follow us along the towpath as we take you on a tour of our happy couple’s big day. Starting with a proposal on a deserted Sri Lankan beach, meandering through the wedding planning and a whole lot of DIY design by the bride, and ending in a big old celebration and a very happy ever after indeed.
Fran herself looks radiant, marrying in an A-line princess dress with a beautiful full skirt, lace sleeves and V-neckline, surrounded by a tribe of her lovely ‘maids in pale grey and blush pink. This will be right up your street if pops of peach and pastels, the northern countryside in springtime, and classic pretty is your vibe.
With images by Bobtale Photography
Fran says: We got engaged in Sri Lanka on 13th of April 2017. It was our first ever proper travelling holiday together. We moved onto different locations every three days and about halfway through the trip, when we arrived at Nilaveli on the north-east coastline, Joe popped the question on a deserted beach in the evening of our first night there! There was almost a full-moon (though I don’t think Joe can take credit for that!). It was honestly the most surreal, magical experience but a real blur when I try to think back to it now. It made an already spectacular trip even more precious.
We got married on 6th of April 2019. We chose April as it is a special month for us – the month that we met and the month we got engaged. We thought that two years would be enough time to save a significant amount of pennies, though I don’t think that any amount of time can prepare you for the additional expenses which you might forget about at the time of budgeting!
We got married at Standedge Tunnel Visitor Centre in Marsden, West Yorkshire. We had the ceremony and reception there and the whole day was just a dream. We live very near the canal in Huddersfield and love nothing more than walking down the towpath, exploring the surrounding area and being amongst the local nature. This being the case, the opportunity to get married on the canal where we live and have spent a lot of time at, was just a dream come true! The venue is on the edge of the Pennines which separate Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire. The canal flows underneath the Pennines (Standedge Tunnel) and the visitor centre once used to be the boat house, I believe. I know I am biased, but there really isn’t anything better than the good old Yorkshire countryside.
We chose to base the colours and décor on an ‘English Country Garden’ theme as it was early April and the spring flowers were just starting to emerge.
With it having a country, nature feel we kept the palette very neutral. Lots of green, whites, a few pale blues and then peach to mirror the coloured roses in my bouquet. The colour scheme was reflected in the bridesmaids dusty pink and pale blue dresses, invites, the flowers and table decorations.
I wore a Pronovias dress called ‘Divina’. My mum and I went dress shopping together and at the first place we went to, I didn’t see anything that really stood out to me – bearing in mind I had absolutely no idea what I was looking for! Then, we went to a boutique in Holmfirth. I had never even heard of Pronovias but they had the most beautiful selection of Pronovias gowns I had ever seen, and as soon as I tried on the ‘Divina’ I knew I had to have it. The dress was an A-line princess dress, something I never thought I would wear, and had the most amazing lace top with a ‘v’ neck and back.
My mum and dad were going to buy the dress so we wanted to shop around to see if we could find it in a sample sale. Low and behold, I found it half price in a sample sale in my size down in East London. My maid of honour was put to work to collect it for me – what a steal! We still can’t get over it. I love a deal; I am a bit of a bargain Betty!
Joe hired a navy suit from Moss Bros with a white shirt, brown brogues and a mint green tie. The groomsmen also hired their suits from Moss Bros. They were the same design but wore a pink tie and pocket square.
I bought the bridesmaids dresses from TFNC – I couldn’t believe the choice and the prices were very reasonable. Each had the same design, but three wore dusty pink and three wore a grey/blue. They were a simple A-line design with a satin tie round the waist. It took a while to find something everyone would feel comfortable in but when I found the one, it all just fell into place!
Laura Elizabeth Makeup, based in Huddersfield, took care of makeup and her colleague Tracey did the hair styling. They were incredible and such talented ladies. They made us feel so at ease – even at 5.45am!
We hired an Austin Princess from BB Cars in Leeds. Their service was second to none – the driver was great and the car was so special. It really added a little extra class to the day! The bridesmaids and my mum travelled in the car first and then the car came back to collect dad and I. We felt like royalty!
None other than the super talented Robyn Howard-Sinclair of Bobtale Photography. I can’t recommend her highly enough. I felt so supported by her all morning at home whilst we were getting ready – she was so calm and reassuring when all I could think about was how much I wanted to be sick! As well as capturing the most amazing natural shots, she was there to help adjust my veil, zip up my dress and help organise the huge amount of guests for the group photos. She’s a serious talent and we are so lucky to have had her be part of our special day; the photos captured the wedding perfectly.
I had a primarily white and peach bouquet with lots of foliage. I had some beautiful peach roses, gypsophila and freesia.
Roxanne Jones, the owner of Lily Blossom in Marsden created all the combinations and the floral decorations and centerpieces. She is nothing short of incredible.
I asked Roxanne to provide me with loads of foliage and flowers taken from the theme of my bouquet. I had collected tonnes of wine bottles over the period of our engagement and, whilst I used some for candlestick holders, the majority were for the flowers. My mum, sisters and mother- in-law helped me the day before put them all together and arrange them down the trestle tables.
Roxane also created the most incredible top table bouquet and gypsophila bunches for the pew ends. The masterpiece, however, was the cast iron wheel which she fastened a huge arrangement to. It was this which we got married in front of.
I actually made the cake myself! I have a small baking business on the side of my full-time job and it has always been a goal of mine to make my own wedding cake. A lot of people tried to tell me it’d be too stressful, but I honestly enjoyed every bit of it! We went for a lemon and elderflower cake with lemon curd filling and ruffle royal icing. I made three tiers and had a personalised cake topper created with our names on. The florist then really made the cake come to life with flowers to match my bouquet.
I made wildflower seed packets for everyone as I love gardening myself, and thought it’d be a nice lasting memento for the day, although one of the best men decided to eat his! I also put together little bags of mini eggs as we got married around Easter time.
Joe’s parents kindly gifted us the wines for the table and for the toast. We went for a pink sparkling wine for the toast and lots of white (my favourite South African Sauvignon Cambalala) and a Portuguese red.
For the meal we chose to have squash soup or a special scotch egg to start, pork belly roast or mushroom risotto for main and brownie or citrus tart for dessert. We also provided canapes for after the ceremony – these included mini stuffed Yorkshire puddings, which I was very excited about! Though Joe and I were so busy we didn’t get a chance to steal one!
For the evening buffet we went for a ploughman’s style affair. Breads, salad, cheese, chutneys, meats, quiche… the lot! The catering staff did a sterling job.
I should mention that, regardless of me being a vegetarian, Joe had a three tier pork pie created by Bolster Moor butchers in Huddersfield. It looked amazing and there really wasn’t much left!
Edwards Catering did our meal and evening buffet. They were incredible, they provided their own staff and not only was the food delicious, but they just provided a seamless service.
I am a musician so it was really important to me to have great music. As I work at the Royal Northern College of Music, talented musicians are very easy to come by. I had an incredible harpist, Philippa Smith, who played during the ceremony and at the drinks reception, and then we had an amazing band from the Popular Music course at the College, who played for the evening. They were such a hit – they got everyone dancing; it was the best vibe and exceeded all expectations.
I came across the Brides Up North site early on in planning. The inspiration and real weddings articles were a huge help and made me realise that a DIY wedding was possible and can be beautiful even when doing the majority of it yourself, and on a budget.
I designed and printed all save the dates, invites, ceremony order of services and any other wedding artwork. I felt that was a huge achievement in itself and when I saw it all together it made me realise that sticking to a theme works so well, especially for a DIY wedding.
Instead of a guest book, I designed a poster which people signed and is now framed and up on the wall at home. It’s such a nice reminder of the day – and I think it’s much better than using a book which we will never get out!
As we got married in a canal building, we thought it was only right to have a ride on a barge! The Marsden Shuttle took us for a little trip and the photographer got some cracking photos! It was so fun but slightly scary getting on and off with such a huge dress!
I made a ‘sweetie station’ for the evening so pick and mix was flowing freely – who doesn’t love a free sweet bar?! We also designed two special cocktails which guests could order at the bar.
I also saved a lot of grey ramekins over our engagement and put them down the aisle and stairwell with tea lights in each one – that was pretty special when they were all lit.
We made each other’s wedding rings with Louise Mary Ring Designs in Derbyshire. We had the whole day in her workshop to make our rings. It was such a special experience and makes our rings mean that little bit more to us.
Our venue! I’d recommend it to another couple in a heartbeat. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. Aside from it being a beautiful building and in an unbeatable setting, they leave it as a blank canvas for you. Some may find that intimidating but as long as Pinterest is your friend, you can’t go wrong! Bev, our wedding coordinator was incredible and supported us the whole way. If you want a countryside wedding with a twist, look no further than Standedge Tunnel. It won’t disappoint.
My favourite part? What a question! Getting ready with mum and my girls was so special – they made me feel so at ease. I loved riding in the beautiful Austin Princess with my dad and, aside from the vows, the speeches were an absolute highlight! I’m just going to have to say…the whole day!
We went to Morocco on honeymoon. We stayed four nights in Marrakech and three in the Atlas Mountains. We love a good adventure and Morocco did not disappoint. It was the most special trip and one that left us wanting more! We will definitely go back but perhaps somewhere less mad than Marrakech! The mountains were just stunning and the people were so generous.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to stay true to yourself. Don’t let people influence you and your decisions. You are ultimately spending a lot of your money on a day which is about you and your partner. Surround yourself with ideas and positivity, and you won’t go far wrong. Know when to stop though – you don’t need to overdo it!
Also, enjoy your day – take a step back with your spouse to see what you have spent the past months organising. It’s so overwhelming. Finally, don’t drink yourself to death! Take it easy and enjoy watching everyone have a great time!