From the literary tablecentres to the groom’s bespoke mountain-inspired cufflinks, Katy and Jono put a lot of thought into the decoration of their wedding day.
Keen to avoid overdressing their venue – Newton Hall, which the couple felt was exquisite enough as was – they focused instead on personal details that would really weave together the details of their love story.
With friends and family from across the world all jetting into Alnwick for their celebration, this pair of newlyweds had their hearts set on creating a celebration that was as relaxed as it was welcoming, and as laid-back as it was carefully put together.
On the subject of guests flying in from far-flung destinations: all four of Katy’s bridesmaids flew in from Australia for the occasion, with the quartet trying on their gowns together for the first time on the big day itself. Naturally, they looked gorgeous – as did the bride in her stunning Jesus Peiro gown. Oh, and a fun fact about Katy’s wedding dress before you go any further: it had pockets!
Read on to get all the autumnal feels for this glorious October celebration – enjoy!
With images by Rachael Fraser Photography.
Katie says: Jono proposed in December 2018 on the mountain summit of Ben Lomond in Tasmania, Australia, where we first met over a decade ago. We’d talked about heading up there for a walk while back visiting relatives in Australia, since it had been a while since we had been and we have such fond memories of being on the mountain.
Anticipating only a bit of a hike and a ramble through the Australian bush, I donned my finest hoodie and leggings and took my time that morning, completely unsuspecting. As we backed out of the driveway, I remember Jono’s dad giving us a massive grin and wave as I commented ‘your dad is especially happy today!’.
We ended up walking to the summit, where after admiring the views I turned around to find Jono on one knee. Of course, I said ‘yes’, and we both started crying before cracking open a celebratory hamper of wine and snacks, which Jono had snuck into the boot that morning! We celebrated with friends and family that evening and couldn’t stop smiling.
The gorgeous engagement ring Jono had made is enriched with family history; it combines the diamond from his grandma’s engagement ring with his great-grandma’s wedding band, with Ceylon sapphires that he added himself. I feel so honoured to carry so much family history on me.
Our wedding was in October 2019. We booked it solely according to availability but later realised it was the five-year anniversary of our first date!
We were married at Newton Hall in Alnwick and we also held our reception there. As soon as we saw Newton Hall, we knew it was for us – it is such an incredible mix of historic elegance and fantastical romance, and most importantly, the staff were keen to stress that it was our day and as such, we did not have to follow a predetermined formula.
We wanted a laid-back and casual vibe on the day, with a kick of British grandeur for all our overseas guests, which Newton Hall delivered perfectly. It’s a fantastic and private location, with a wonderful team of staff to help you along the wedding planning process.
What we loved most was how beautiful the venue is, meaning we didn’t have to spend loads of time ‘dressing’ it and could concentrate instead on the myriad of other things that planning a wedding entails.
We never had a theme per se but gravitated towards a more natural and rustic feel, so I guess that shone through. We went with warm autumnal colours to match the season.
I was determined to shop for my wedding dress with an open mind, so tried on a few different designers and styles to see what I felt most comfortable in. It quickly became evident that lace, beading and showy embellishments were not my vibe at all, which is when I discovered the classic feminine dresses in the Jesus Peiro collection.
I wanted something timeless and elegant: not over the top but still striking. The dress I chose was a classic ballgown shape, with a sweetheart neckline, thin straps and a modern twist of subtle polka dots. The fabric was divine and it was so comfortable to wear.
Jesus Peiro were also more than happy to make design changes to the original dress, which was amazing, and I ended up feeling like the dress had been made just for me. The best part? It had pockets!
I also have to shout out to The Honeycomb; I found them through Etsy and they created my gorgeous silk botanical hairpiece.
Jono also wore silver mountain cufflinks, which were created by Orkney-based Alison Moore Designs as a nod to our love of the mountains.
All my bridesmaids flew over from Australia so it was important to me that, having made such a huge commitment to come all this way for our wedding, they would be wearing something they felt amazing in.
I gave them a budget and the colour burgundy, and told them to go buy whatever dress they wanted! Despite buying their dresses individually from different stores in Sydney and Melbourne, it worked out beautifully. On the morning of the wedding, when they all got out their dresses together for the first time, we were all absolutely amazed as it looked as if they had gone shopping together!
The colours matched perfectly and they all showed their personal style in the designs that they chose. To keep them warm, I got them all faux fur stoles, which looked absolutely incredible in the setting.
The very talented Victoria Holdstock did our makeup and the equally gifted Leanne Hamilton did our hair.
I couldn’t have been happier in choosing Victoria and Leanne, who were both so professional and calming on the morning of the wedding. We had such a chilled-out time getting ready with these two ladies, who were both so lovely and made us look our absolute best on the day.
Rachael Fraser Photography and her second shooter Rosie Davison were our photographers on the day.
Rachael is a close friend, so we were already very familiar with her gift for producing sublime photos and knew we didn’t need to look any further. Her photos are beautifully light and romantic, and she has an uncanny ability to capture really special moments with the camera.
You spend so much time with your photographer on your wedding day, so it was really special for us that we were able to do so with someone we knew and felt so comfortable with. Knowing Rachael as both a friend and professional photographer, we couldn’t recommend her enough and we will cherish the photos from our wedding day for life.
Our flowers were put together by an incredibly talented friend of ours, Elizabeth Cornwell who comes with the distinguished commendation of providing flower arrangements for the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland.
I wanted posies that fit with our laid-back theme – a bit loose and wild – and asked for some eucalyptus to represent our links to Australia, as well as some freesias, which not only smell gorgeous but were what my mum had on her wedding day. Liz took care of the rest and the result was stunning.
We didn’t want to go over the top with table decorations, partly because Newton Hall is already so beautiful it doesn’t need it but also because it’s not really ‘us’ to fuss over centrepieces. We are both huge bookworms and connected over a love of reading, so to dress the tables we decided to go with a literary theme and source second-hand books from the incredible Barter Books in Alnwick, and have them stacked on the table.
Elizabeth Cornwell took care of the flowers, which were placed in old bottles that my dad had collected over his lifetime from his hometown of Rye. He passed away in 2014 so it was really special to feel like he was there on the day and had contributed in his own way.
My father passed away in 2014, so there were many tributes to him throughout the day. On my bouquet, I carried a locket with his picture and the word ‘dad’ engraved in his own handwriting, beautifully crafted by The Little Keepsake Company. My mum and brother walked me down the aisle in his place; plus, all the flower vases at the reception were old bottles that he had collected in his lifetime from his hometown of Rye, East Sussex.
Instead of choosing a traditional guest book, we ordered a Star Map which shows a map of the stars on the night we were married. We invited guests to sign it so we could frame it and hang it in the house.
We didn’t give favours but instead invited guests to each choose a book from the centrepieces to take home with them! This turned out even better than we could have hoped, as we watched guests get really excited about being able to take a book home and talk with each other about their choices. It also meant we had no waste from the centrepieces, which was important to us.
The Master Cakesmith made our wedding cake and it was simply divine! It was a simple two-tier semi-naked cake, with a Posh Lemon flavour: lemon sponge with lots of lemon zest and a limoncello buttercream and limoncello drizzle.
I have Italian ancestry so, the limoncello was a cool little nod to that – and was very well received by our Italian friends and relatives!
We already knew Newton Hall’s food was amazing but what was most important to us was a casual dinner vibe. We went for an open buffet and no seating arrangements, so people could choose whatever food they wanted and had the opportunity to mingle with other guests.
Newton Hall has an excellent drinks menu, and their cocktails were especially memorable. The Foaming French Martini, Salted Caramel Espresso Martini and Mojitos were all big hits on the night!
We had Aurora String Trio play during our ceremony and drinks reception. They have such a varied repertoire so we loved being able to have them play music from Lord of the Rings (we’re big fans!) as well as getting to exit the aisle to Guns and Roses’ Sweet Child O’ Mine, with some beautiful classical pieces thrown into the mix, too.
A good friend of ours, Peter Young, sang a couple of traditional Northumbrian folk songs in the evening, Cushie Butterfield and The Blaydon Races, which everyone joined in singing and was an amazing tribute to the place we have called ‘home’ for the last few years.
Marvellous Disco kept the dance floor going all night and we can honestly say we’ve never danced so much as we did that night.
Seeing friends and family come together from all over the world was an absolute highlight for the both of us. We took several moments just to watch as people from Australia, Italy, Canada, Greece, England, Scotland and France talked, laughed, and danced together.
We knew we would never again have the opportunity to have all our friends and family from around the world come together like it again, so we definitely cherished those moments
We chose nine days in Zanzibar for our perfect honeymoon! Jono and I have travelled a lot together but we had never before done the relax-by-the-beachside holiday, so this was our chance to go all-out on that front.
We left for Zanzibar just two days after the wedding and arrived in what felt like a different world. We were met at the airport by a local who drove us to our accommodation, and made lots of stops on the way to treat us to coconuts and red bananas!
We stayed at The Residence, which is honestly a piece of heaven on earth. Every villa has a private pool and we were made to feel so special on our honeymoon, with candlelit dinners on the beach, champagne on arrival and a much-needed couples’ massage!
Highlights included uninterrupted rest and relaxation by the pool and beach, snorkelling in the Indian Ocean, daily visits from the resident cheeky monkeys, and a private charter taking us out to a sandbank for a seafood banquet. If we could have stayed forever, we would have!
I’m sure it’s been said time and time again but don’t sweat the small stuff. You don’t need to spend exorbitant amounts of time and money on little things that will soon be forgotten – and in many cases not even noticed!
If in doubt, ask yourself if it will matter to you after the wedding and remind yourself that it is a day to celebrate each other in the company of your dearly beloved, and stay true to what the two of you want – it’s your day after all!