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Talk about a pick-me-up, the good-time summer vibes from today’s awesome real wedding are sure to instantly boost your mood!
Agreeing on a wedding in the North West to make the most of the beautiful Cumbrian countryside, Becca and Ben fell upon two breath-taking settings for their big day, and even managed to arrange for the groom’s dad to deliver their church ceremony (don’t worry guys, it’s all official… he’s a vicar!)
From there the party moved onto a pared back rustic barn for the breezy celebrations to continue, with guests soaking up heatwave rays, sipping on Aperol Spritz cocktails and feasting on a delicious Mediterranean spread!
Taking things up a notch (or ten!) for the evening, Becca and Ben surprised their guests with a lively brass band that had the entire wedding party dancing and singing as the sun went down. Knowing that the party would be high-octane, bride Becca had a second dress to slip into that would enable her to fully let loose…and even do the splits! Go on lass!
With images by Adam Riley Photography
Becca says: We got engaged in the Lakes in August 2016. We’re big hill walkers and like to get out of London and head up to the mountains when we can. Early into the ascent to the summit of Fairfield from Ambleside, we stopped to check out the view, as you do. Ben asked if I wanted a biscuit (I said no) and then he said: “you might want this instead”, before pulling a ring out of his pocket. It’s funny – I had a feeling we’d get engaged that weekend (it was on the cards for a while!), but I was still taken by total surprise.
We had quite a long build up, deciding to get married almost two years later on the 30th June 2018. We were set on a summer wedding and needed a decent chunk of time to save the cash for the wedding we wanted.
We decided pretty quickly that we wanted to get married in the Lakes. I’m from Lancashire and spent a lot of my childhood scrambling around Cumbria with my parents and grandparents so it’s always felt close to my heart. A barn where we could do our own thing appealed to us, and we wanted to be surrounded by the Lake District’s incredible landscape. After looking at a few places and feeling like something was missing, we drove up to New House Farm and gawped. It sounds daft, but I knew we’d found the perfect place as I shut the car door.
That wasn’t it though, as it was important to us that the ceremony was in a church. Ben’s dad’s a vicar, so we were hoping he’d be able to lead the service in a church nearby (a big ask!). We popped down the road to St Bartholomew’s in Loweswater, gawped (once again) at the dramatic hills through the stained-glass window, and (once again) knew it was perfect. We spoke to the vicar there at the time, Sheila, and happily she agreed to let Ben’s dad do the ceremony. It all fitted together perfectly; we were incredibly lucky.
We ended up with a Northern/ Mediterranean/festival/rustic mash up which somehow worked perfectly, and the heatwave certainly helped! We were drawn to the relaxed vibes of outdoor weddings in Italy and had our first holiday together in Sicily and so wanted to bring an Italian vibe into the mix. But we wanted it to feel like a wild Northern party too (I may live in London, but I’ll always be Northerner!). I think the photos speak for themselves!
From day one we didn’t really want to be stuck to one ‘theme’. The main thing was for it to feel like our wedding, so opting for things we liked, rather than feel we had to be locked into a theme felt important.
In terms of the colour scheme, we went for greens and whites. We wanted to echo the wildness of the outdoors, so wanted lots of wild, earthy foliage.
I surprised myself by going for a Claire Pettibone number. Her dresses are totally gorgeous, but the detail on some of them isn’t really my style. But as soon as I saw the lacy, simple number in Blackburn Bridal I was sold. I loved the colour (a warm, creamy off-white), the sexy low back, and most of all, the dreamy lace.
Closer to the day, I went rogue and bought a second-hand Whistles gown to party the night away in. I had it shortened and had the neckline altered, and it was perfection. From about 6pm I didn’t stop dancing (as is my way – and even did the splits!), so it definitely served its purpose.
Finding the right shoes took a long time, but I finally found a perfect pair in Mango a few weeks before the wedding.
I love accessories but tend to think less is more, so I kept things simple. My bag was a vintage find that I happily stumbled across in East London, my lovely, modern earrings were from Catherine Zoraida, and I wore a bracelet by Sezane, which I wear all the time. I wore a plain veil in the church, before whipping it off for the party at New House Farm.
Ben wore a lovely grey/checked number from Suit Supply, which he’s worn at many weddings since. His lovely monk style shoes were from John White. The groomsmen meanwhile wore their own suits with a red tie to match my best women’s dresses.
I love a coral-y red, so opted for my girls finding a dress of their choice in that colour. It wasn’t the easiest mission for them really, as you don’t get a lot of dresses in that colour; I’m eternally grateful to them all for persevering.
Our old family hairdresser, Katie Reynolds (who’s based in Leyland where I’m from) did my hair! She and her daughter Grace did an incredible job, and ensured I had a bacon butty and fizz as I struggled to do my make up that morning (I’d had a lesson and practiced, but it was hard work!).
This was an old Ford Anglia as I’m a massive Harry Potter fan! We hired it through Star Car Hire, but it was owned by Duncan, who was a total Scottish gent. He even let me drive it!
Adam Riley did a phenomenal job. I’d recommend him in a heartbeat. We wanted photos that weren’t staged and just summed it all up – the emotions, the colour, the beauty, the mishaps. Just people being people and having a great time. Suffice to say, he delivered.
Deborah at Evergreens Florist in Keswick, styled and arranged our flowers. She did a phenomenal job; I loved my bouquet, the subtle table flowers and the arrangements in the milk churn. I had grand visions of lots of foliage hanging from the ceiling, but we decided to spend our money on other things as we felt the barn didn’t need it – especially with all of my crafty additions!
We had flowers and foliage dotted around the church, barn and grounds, all in vases made by Fred Watkin, a lovely potter who lives in Walthamstow, or bottles and jars we’d collected. We didn’t go overboard in the church as the views were enough.
Given the barn was a blank canvas, we chose to decorate the space with lots of lights and backdrops. Dale at DTL Marquees provided the lights, tables and chairs, and me and my dad made all the wooden signage and collected pallets to make the outdoor ‘tables’.
I love a big project, and so gave myself two massive backdrops to make. I subsequently lost a lot of hours of my life sat behind a sewing machine, but I’m pleased I persevered; they made the barn look even more stunning.
Jo at Cutie Pie Cupcakes made our lovely cake. I heard it was delicious, but sadly I didn’t get to try any of it.
In keeping with the Mediterranean vibe, we went for an Italian feast which was rustled up by Karen Rhodes Catering. I realise I’m singing the praises of all our suppliers, but we really did have some good’uns. The food was fantastic (many friends have told us this), but the service was top notch too. I used to work in pubs and restaurants in my teens and early twenties, so I’m a big fan of good service. Karen Rhodes and her daughter Charlotte definitely delivered. They were a joy to deal with, maintaining patience while we changed our minds!
After Italian-style canapes, Aperol Spritz, prosecco and IPAs outside, we ate asparagus with pesto, prosciutto and mozzarella, followed by a choice of porchetta (carved at the table by a guest!), Milanese chicken, aubergine parmigiana or seabass – all served with roasted vegetables, roast new potatoes, salsa verde and a courgette, lemon and basil salad. Guests were could help themselves to lemon tarts or wedding cake for dessert. We chose a hearty red and a white to go with the pork, which was delivered by Majestic wines up in Carlisle.
In the evening we had a Northern buffet put together by my wonderful aunties and mum – lots of pork pies, cheese, sausage rolls, pates, breads etc. The band and guests demolished it, and I snuck into the kitchen for a drunken nibble of the leftovers in the wee hours.
Karen Rhodes also did the catering for our barbecue the next day, something I really recommend doing if you have the option. We sat in the sun, drank leftover booze and devoured lovely salads, burgers and kebabs.
The band – Back Chat Brass – were off the scale. We were excited when we booked them, but they surpassed all our expectations. Their set list is totally mega, but they also brought a ton of energy to their performance which helped make our wedding the wild party that it was.
Happily, the weather was incredible (we were very lucky to get married in the Lakes at the beginning of the 2018 heatwave!), so we got to have a wild outdoor party in front of the hills. As the sun started to set Back Chat Brass led our guests around the building, which saw us all dancing on tables and walls – anywhere really! Our friends still talk about it, as do the venue owners!
Ben’s dad delivering the ceremony gave our wedding a lot of heart, depth and meaning. The party was wonderful, sure, but nothing can quite beat how special that was – for both of us for sure, but also for our families.
We would 100% recommend or choice of venue to other couples. New House Farm is a wonderful blank canvas, and Hazel, the owner, lets you do as you please. It’s in a special corner of the Lakes, far from the crowds in other parts of Cumbria. We love it so much we’ve started a little tradition of going back to the area every year for our anniversary.
We must also mention Annabel Candler, who was our amazing wedding coordinator. We had ideas a-plenty, but it suddenly occurred to me that we needed someone to run the day. I remember waking up early one morning with the sudden realisation that no one was going to be there to make sure stuff just happened; we had lots of suppliers, but no one holding the pen! So, I googled ‘Lake District wedding coordinator’ from my bed, and thankfully Annabel’s name popped up! We had a couple of Skype calls to chat through the flow of the day and resolve logistical challenges, and that was it really! It was probably the best decision we made as it allowed us to enjoy every second. We didn’t give logistics or organisation a single thought on the day, which is quite something given I’m an ex-project manage.
Ben’s speech, without a doubt. He’s an emotionally aware man, which is one of the many things I love about him. But I wasn’t prepared for what he said or how he said it. He dug deep and was honest and vulnerable. It left me and many others in various states of weepiness.
He’s also a phenomenally calm, confident public speaker, so as well as feeling really moved by his words, I remember thinking ‘this man is ridiculously hot’, which is surely what every bride wants to think on her wedding day, right?!
Second favourite part: Back Chat Brass ‘gate-crashing’ the end of our first dance (Penny & The Quarters, You and Me) to the surprise and delight of our guests, none of whom had a clue what we had planned!
We went pretty wild and did a five-week ‘tour’ around the South of France, Northern Spain and Italy. We’re a fan of ‘doing stuff’ when we’re on holiday, so moving around Europe felt perfect for us. We cycled to French villages and vineyards, ate the steak of our lives in San Sebastian, scaled mountains in Picos de Europa, and rounded it off by relaxing on Corsican beaches. It was heavenly, and we felt very lucky to be able to do it.
We have three top tips for other brides- and grooms-to-be:
Don’t feel you have to have all the things! I’d recommend investing in a good band if you can, but don’t feel like you have to have lots of entertainment options for your guests as well – photo booths etc. If you’d like those things and can afford them, go for it (as it’s your day of course!), but people will have a great time with some good music and yummy food. Don’t feel you need to do/have everything.
Try not to fall into Pinterest black holes. Take on a small number of DIY projects that’ll have impact and leave it at that. I’m really pleased I made a massive 8 ft backdrop, but in hindsight I gave myself (and my poor dad!) a lot to do, some of which probably wasn’t necessary. Ah, the benefit of hindsight!
Finally, a bit left field, but consider making a recording of you and your husband chatting about your wedding day memories soon after the day. We did this on our honeymoon, and while we’ve not actually listened to it yet, we can’t wait to open a bottle of wine and laugh at how lame and ecstatic we sound!
Also, during the planning, I loved looking at the Brides Up North blog! It’s so helpful to see other people’s weddings, and piece together what you want from that.