Real Weddings

Stella York for a relaxed wedding at Doxford Barns – Sophie & Anthony

19th September 2019 | Katie Byrne

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A festoon of flowers and romantic rustic details created the perfect setting for this dreamy big day.

Following a surprise proposal in Bangkok, Sophie and Anthony settled on the countryside charm of the stunning Doxford Barns in Chathill, Alnwick, to host their perfect wedding.

A relaxed yet considered approach to party-planning was combined with a knack for pulling together details and elements, resulting in the couple’s day being filled with exquisite blooms, thoughtful decor and a highly desirable menu.

Read on for the full scoop on Sophie and Anthony’s beautiful celebrations – and if their choice of venue has you falling head over heels, then be sure to join us for our Luxury Wedding Show in partnership with UNVEILED magazine, at Doxford Barns on Sunday 13th October, 1pm to 4pm, free entry, when we will be showcasing this stunning rural gem in all its glory joined by 30 of the area’s top suppliers to help shape your dream day!

With images by Chocolate Chip Photography

Proposal

Sophie says: We got engaged in Bangkok, Thailand, on 5th February 2018. We booked the trip to celebrate Anthony’s 30th birthday and so it came as a big shock when he asked me to marry him on the second night!

The proposal took place in our hotel room and Anthony had a lovely evening planned: he had booked dinner at a beautiful Thai restaurant followed by drinks at a roof terrace bar overlooking the Bangkok skyline. It was truly amazing and so surreal.

Setting

We got married on 30th May 2019. This is the date of our anniversary, so when the venue had this date available it felt like it was meant to be.

We got married at Doxford Barns in Chathill, Alnwick, and had both the ceremony and reception there. We made an appointment with Doxford Barns not long after we had returned from looking at a few venues on the Amalfi Coast, which is where we originally thought we would marry. However, from the moment we walked into the Great Barn and were greeted by the ever-so smiley Emily Turner, everything felt right. The venue was exactly what we were looking for: warm, friendly and relaxed, and when Emily took us into the Threshing Hall where we were immediately sold!

After booking the venue in August 2018, we visited it twice more before the wedding day, for food tasting and a planning meeting. The rest of the time, we communicated via emails or phone calls, which worked well for us. On the day Gemma Nicholson, manager of the operations team, did an amazing job looking after us. She was very attentive and always checking we were happy and enjoying our day.

As we all know, one thing you can’t rely on in England is the weather. We got married on May 30th and although we knew there was no guarantee, we had hoped it would be a dry day. However, Northumberland had other ideas and it rained from early afternoon into most of the night. However, because Doxford Barns is such a beautiful venue, this really didn’t become an issue and we got some amazing photographs inside using the Threshing Hall. We also moved our welcome drinks to the Cart Shed instead of using the gardens as originally planned.

Theme

When we first booked the wedding, we were constantly asked what our theme was. We didn’t really set out with one, but it gradually developed over time, starting with when we began looking at our save-the-dates and wedding invitations. A friend of ours, Sinead Chivers, is a graphic designer and she designed the perfect invite for us from just a few ideas we had. We then met Julie from The Enchanted Florist, who described what we wanted as ‘rustic, English country garden; natural and pretty’. We couldn’t have put it better ourselves and from that, the theme was created.

We didn’t really have a colour scheme per se, either. The invitation design flowed through the whole day and was incorporated into the table plan, menu cards and the ‘welcome’ board. It’s something that developed over the months of planning and we were so lucky to have a friend who was able to design everything for us.

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Dress

I purchased my wedding dress from Blue Bow Bridal in Belmont, Durham. I visited the shop with my mam back in September and from the moment we walked in, Victoria and Cheryl made me feel at ease and turned what I thought would be a scary experience into an enjoyable one. I didn’t really have any idea of what I was looking for but chose five dresses to try on and although they were all pretty, I wasn’t sure how you were supposed to know when you find ‘the one’. Victoria then asked if she could pick out a dress for me, which I tried on – and that was definitely the one! (She is definitely in the right job, that’s for sure.)

My wedding dress was by the designer Stella York, number 6628. It is described as a ‘casual, sophisticated wedding dress’ and that’s exactly how I felt when I put it on. Making sure the day was as relaxed and informal as possible was important to us both and I felt this dress tied in perfectly with our vision and the venue.

Groomsmen

Anthony wore a suit by the designer Fratelli, which was a dark navy wool check suit. The waistcoat was a double-breasted Marc Darcy Ted Tweed design. Anthony also wore the ‘Monaghan (his surname!) Irish tartan tie.

Anthony had his brother Daniel as his best man, and he wore the same suit and waistcoat as Anthony, with a champagne coloured tie. Both of our fathers also wore this suit, too.

Louis, our nine-year-old page boy, wore a white shirt and chino shorts from Next. He also wore a tweed bow tie and pair of white Converse trainers. He looked so grown-up and handsome. He was also involved with our ceremony: he stood at the front and read the poem On Your Wedding Day. He read it perfectly and we were so proud of him.

Bridesmaids

My two flower girls wore dresses from Monsoon. Lily, aged eight, wore a pink dress called the ‘Tigerlilly Blossom Dress’, whilst one-year-old Annabelle wore the ivory ‘Cherry Blossom Dress’. They both looked beautiful.

Beauty

We had two wonderful ladies in charge of hair and makeup: Melanie Hedley Makeup Artist and a friend, Jade Christie-Gill, for hair. Both ladies did an amazing job. Melanie and Jade spent time with me before the wedding day to make sure I was happy with all aspects of my hair and makeup, and I couldn’t have been more pleased on the day.

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Photography

We used Chris and Shazia from Chocolate Chip Photography. We knew we were in good hands after our first meeting with Chris. On the wedding day, both Chris and Shazia were so much more than photographers. They helped coordinate the day, whether they were helping our families with buttonholes or me get into my wedding dress!

We honestly could not recommend them more highly and the day would not have run as smoothly without them. For any couples looking for someone to capture their special day, you could not get any better than Choc Chip.

Styling

My bouquet was a mix of peonies, forget-me-not, carnations, thlaspi and delphiniums. My oldest flower girl held the same in a smaller bouquet. The two of us also had roses and carnations in our hair. Our flowers were supplied by The Enchanted Florist. We met with Julie twice before the wedding day to go through what we wanted, as well as having a few phone calls and email exchanges. Julie was so helpful from day one and we knew we were in the best possible hands.

Julie also provided all of the floral decorations for the ceremony and reception. Starting in the Threshing Hall, we had two milk churns filled with the same flowers as in my bouquet. Every other aisle seat also had a flower arrangement tied to the seat with a lantern-and-candle combination at the foot of the other. The fireplace at the bottom of the Threshing Hall was also filled with flowers, in five separate arrangements. As we weren’t having a top table, Julie advised us against having the usual flower garland across the fireplace as this could not be reused. She therefore created five separate arrangements so these could be placed around the Great Barn once the ceremony was over. After the ceremony, Julie and her daughter Chloe moved everything we used in the Threshing Hall to the Great Barn. The milk churns stood either side of the cake, whilst the lanterns moved to become the table centrepieces and the five flower arrangements were dotted around the barn. We could not have been happier with how our flowers and decorations turned out. Julie and her team definitely made our flowery happiness come true!

We hired 5ft rustic ‘S & A’ initials from Made Simply Perfect. Glynis was particularly helpful in answering any queries we had, and we felt this addition to the barn fit perfectly. Made Simply Perfect also provided a sign for outside of the venue with our names on and direction to the Threshing Hall and Great Barn.

We also hired a photo tower from Crazy-Pix; although this was a last-minute addition to our wedding day Julie could not have been more helpful and responsive to our requests. Julie delivered the photo tower on the morning of the wedding along with a blank scrap book and came back to collect the equipment at midnight, leaving us with a book full of lovely photos and messages. The guests enjoyed this throughout the whole wedding day and the scrapbook is a great keepsake for us to hold onto as a reminder of the whole day.

Favours

We had scratch cards for the adults (unfortunately no big winners!), as well as chocolate and sweets in a jar for the children.

Cake

We both love cake, so this was definitely our favourite part of wedding planning! We chose to have a cake display which consisted of four separate semi-naked cakes (vanilla, lemon, chocolate and salted caramel), surrounded by cupcakes, brownies, blondies, biscuits and cake popsicles, and all presented on a sweet cart. The cakes were decorated with flowers from the Enchanted Florist, a Mr & Mrs cake topper and a mountain of Italian sweet treats, cannolis.

The creator of this amazing display was Emily Turner, owner of Chemilys Cakes. It was so much more than we could have imagined. Nothing was ever any trouble for Emily, and I know we relied on her for so much more than the cake. We can’t thank her enough for all her help and most importantly, the masterpiece she created on our wedding day.

Catering

We are both total foodies and one of the reasons why we liked Doxford Barns was because we could give our guests a choice of food. We therefore picked three different starters, three different mains and three different desserts for our guests to choose from.

We had great fun in choosing these following a food-tasting night at Doxford Barns last year. We ended up picking the following: crab cakes, black pudding scotch egg and garlic mushrooms for the starter; chicken served with risotto, rump of beef with vegetables and cod with vegetables for the main; and sticky toffee pudding, Eton mess and raspberry cheesecake for dessert. We also chose one red wine and one white wine to accompany the food. The white wine was called Mannara Pinot Grigio and the red was Santa Alegra Merlot.

All the food provided by the chefs at Doxford Barns on our wedding day was amazing, including our evening buffet. All of our guests also commented on the quality of food and we can’t recommend them more highly.

Entertainment

For our ceremony we booked Hattie Murdoch to sing an acoustic set and play the guitar. We listened to a few songs by Hattie online and felt like she was perfect for what we were looking for. She played while the guests were arriving and during the ceremony, as well as throughout our drinks reception and was a big hit with everyone! We couldn’t have been happier with the set she delivered for us and would definitely recommend her to anyone looking for an acoustic guitar player/singer to help bring a relaxed and informal feel to the day.

On the evening we booked DJ Michael Morton. Michael approached Anthony on arriving to check if we had any special requests for the music; however, we left it in Michael’s capable hands and the music he played throughout the night was great.

We booked both Hattie and Michael through AMV Live. Again, there is nothing we could fault with this process. AMV Live always communicated well with us and responded to our queries very promptly.

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Thanks to

Doxford Barns is a truly special venue. One thing we noticed initially was a lot of venues had strict rules that made it difficult to plan a day which would suit us both. However, this was not the case with Doxford Barns. They allowed us to have the wedding day we always imagined and for this we are truly thankful.

Best bit

Walking into the Threshing Hall and seeing each other for the first time was definitely our most memorable and favourite part of the day. To be honest, I don’t enjoy being centre of attention and leading up to the wedding, I worried about how I would be able to walk down the aisle with everyone’s eyes on me. But from the moment I walked into the Threshing Hall and saw Anthony stood at the bottom of the aisle half-smiling (and half-hyperventilating), all the nerves disappeared and hand-in-hand, my dad and I walked down that aisle and enjoyed every moment.

Honeymoon

As we got engaged in Thailand, we talked about going back here for the honeymoon as it holds so many lovely memories for us. But June is not the best time to go to Thailand weather-wise so we decided on a trip to Italy, which was our original intended wedding destination.

We booked Italy for three weeks after the wedding, which was a nice amount of time to let us digest the wedding and then start planning for our holiday. We spent a total of 12 days in Italy; we flew to Rome then used trains to travel to Florence, Venice and finally, Milan. We had such a lovely time and it felt so special spending 12 precious days together, just the two of us as husband and wife.

Advice

My top tip to other Brides Up North is to plan a wedding that suits you both and don’t stress or worry about sticking to traditions if that’s not for you. I would also say, enjoy and have fun planning the day together. I must admit, I am a bit of a control freak, but I soon saw how keen Anthony was to be involved in helping plan the day. I would say we split the planning 50/50 overall, and it was lovely to take a few minutes together on our wedding day to stand back, appreciate and feel proud at what we had achieved together.

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