Real Weddings

Rara Avis for a Winter Wedding at The Craven Arms & Cruck Barn – Emily & Ryan

Julia Braime

Giving us all the seasonal feels, Emily and Ryan’s gorgeous winter wedding is the epitome of rural romance taking place against the truly picturesque backdrop of the Yorkshire Dales.

First off, we have to say how in love we are with bride Emily’s stunning choice of attire. Having struggled to find a dress she felt herself in, Emily stumbled upon a dream design on Pinterest and took a massive leap of faith in placing a made-to-measure order online with the designer (after lots of research we hasten to add!). A risk that, as she says, “was totally worth it” as she looked a sensational winter bride vision in the beautiful boho, floral detailed dress, accessorised with foliage crown, trailing veil and lace-up boots.

Keen to embrace the joyous festive season, Emily and Ryan, planned a cosy, intimate and luxe celebration in an idyllic cruck barn setting, complete with hearty food, fabulous entertainment and a host of personal touches. Perfection through and through!

With images by Georgie Beck Photography and video by To Have & To Hold Films


Emily says: The proposal took place at Windsor Mountain Summer Camp in New Hamphire, USA, in April 2018. Ryan and I were road tripping around America, we visited a camp where I used to work. It was out of season, so it was completely empty. The lake was frozen over and there was snow on the ground. We spent the day hunting turkeys and following bear tracks in the woods before enjoying some bubbly around the campfire with some close friends. By the light of the moon and glow of the fire, Ryan popped the question by the lakeside with two of our friends – and the wild turkeys – as witnesses!


We set the date for 28th December 2019, as it was 71-years-and-a-day that my late grandparents were married. I use to travel up the Yorkshire Dales as a child to celebrate my grandma’s birthday that was on Christmas Eve and when we first saw the venue we knew it lent itself to a romantic, cosy winter wedding.

Our ceremony took place at St Wilfred’s Church in Burnsall, Yorkshire Dales, while the reception was held at The Craven Arms & Cruck Barn in Appletreewick. We selected the reception venue first. We visited The Craven Arms after researching it online and were immediately bowled over by the venue, the food and the friendly welcome we received. Nestled within the idyllic rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales it truly is a special place. With our hearts firmly set on The Craven Arms we quickly went about looking for a church for our marriage ceremony. We didn’t have to look very far, as we fell in love with St Wilfred’s in neighbouring Burnsall, and the community welcomed us with open arms. Which made it all the more special.


We wanted to celebrate the season – we see winter as a time of warmth, luxury and indulgence. This informed our choice of colours, textures, food, flowers and decorations. It was a fairly broad theme in that sense, and we weren’t too prescriptive – we just wanted all elements to contribute to the winter feel.

We decided against a strict colour scheme for the wedding, we didn’t want to limit the palette to only a selection of colours. We opted to focus more on textures and tone of colour. In the end we used many colours, which were all rich, deep and vibrant. This created a less formal, regimented feel in favour of a more bohemian vibe.


When looking for my wedding dress I found it really difficult to find something that was really me. All the ‘classic’ wedding dresses I found at first were admittedly very beautiful but didn’t feel like my style and felt odd trying them on.

I found and fell in love with my dress on Pinterest initially. I loved the unique colour, the boho style and the beautiful detail. I hadn’t seen any other dresses like the Rara Avis dresses. After research I found the designer on Etsy selling her dresses from Belarus! I conversed with the designer over Whatsapp whereby she gave me so many options of fabric, colours and bespoke styling, through pictures and videos in her design studio. My mum took my measurements and I ordered the dress online! I had updates on my dress being made and I had the dress within weeks. The fit was perfect, beautifully made and it was stunning. It felt like a risk but one that was totally worth it – speaking to some other women who had left her reviews on Etsy gave me confidence. Everyone was raving about the quality and personalised service. I didn’t miss out on the wedding dress experience entirely as I managed to get to a few shops before making my decision to go with Rara Avis – I chose the Linda dress.

I paired by dress with a pair of Russel & Bromley lace-up brown snakeskin boots – perfect for the countryside terrain and comfy all day (and night) long!


Ryan wore a bespoke tailored dark green Yorkshire Tweed Suit from Antich & Sons Tailors, Huddersfield. The service and options of fabric at Antich was second to none.

Accessories-wise, he wore a pair of Loake Glendale brogue boots in conker brown, teamed with a woven wine-red tie and matching pocket square.

The groomsmen all wore navy woollen suits with brown shoes. We didn’t dictate the retailer. To link everyone together the grooms party wore matching ties and pocket squares.


The bridesmaids wore dark red velvet embroidered dresses from Monsoon with emerald green faux fur stole and brown boots.

Two of our flowergirls wore dark red velvet dresses from John Lewis with white faux fur jackets and brown boots. The third flowergirl opted to don a red jumpsuit from Boden with blue velvet high top trainers.


FACES took care of the makeup while Lottie Haigh Hair did the hair styling.


We hired a vintage bus from Yesteryear, which took everyone to the church and venue and then we hired a Hargreaves minibus to transport everyone back to Grassington at the end of the night where most of the wedding party stayed in BnB’s.


Georgina Beck captured our day. The quality of the photos was absolutely fantastic, and we were delighted with them. Moreover, Georgina herself was brilliant, she really felt like an old friend which put us both at ease when taking those intimate shots. She was great to have around on the wedding day and her communication was excellent from the moment we booked her to the moment we received the finished photos (and everything in-between). A pleasure to work with.


To Have & To Hold Films were our videographers. Securing the services of Kitty and Ash was one of the best decisions we made when planning the wedding. For a while we were unsure whether we were going to book videographers but having received the finished product it’s worth every penny. Kitty and Ash managed to capture not only the beauty of the day, but the very essence of the emotion and energy throughout. Watching the video provides us with an opportunity to relive the day as much as possible (short of us building a time machine and doing it all again). Kitty and Ash are wonderful people and feel like new friends.


Flower-wise, I had a home-grown, handpicked bouquet lovingly arranged by Dierdre at Pod & Petal. Dierdre is an independent florist who operates out of her Yorkshire back garden. She offered a truly bespoke service providing expertise on which flowers and foliage she thought would work well for a winter arrangement. We used only local and seasonal produce however she did offer to source out of season flowers if we wished. We opted to choose a combination of dried flowers and fresh foliage to offer varying colours, shapes and textures in the bouquet. She produced a stunning array of local seasonal foliage and flowers and presented them beautifully in the form of bouquets, my foliage head crown, buttonholes and corsages. Dierdre was a pleasure to work with and we wouldn’t hesitate in getting some special flowers from her garden again!

Following a wreath making workshop the year before, one christmasy Saturday afternoon before the wedding my parents, Ryan and I made 14 wreaths for the pew ends at the church, using left over Christmas tree foliage from a local Christmas tree farm and home dried oranges.

We also spent the year collecting fabric from charity shops and carboot sales; in order to make metres of ‘rag’ style boho bunting for the venue.


We created handmade goodie bags for all of our guests based on the marriage vows we took earlier that day. The contents of the handmade bags were as follows;

To have and to hold – hand warmers;

From this day forward – personalised badge with the wedding date;

For better, for worse – yin-yang temporary tattoo;

For richer, for poorer – chocolate coin;

In sickness and in health – paracetamol (vitamins for the kids);

To love and to cherish – plant bulb; and

Till death do us part – angel trinket.

We also gave a scrabble piece with people’s initials which functioned as a drinks token at the bar.


We had the ‘Piggy in the Middle’ cake of cheese from The Churchmouse at Barbon cheese makers in the Yorkshire Dales. Cake isn’t our thing but cheese very much is! The cake was delicious, and it was decorated so beautifully – it would have been a shame to eat if it wasn’t so tasty! It functioned as a nice addition to the evening food, which our guests appreciated too.


The food at The Craven Arms is incredible and the team on site gave us so much freedom when it came to selecting a menu. To start we had a range of canapes and mulled wine (and Vimto for children) as welcome drinks. Knowing just how filling the mains would be we opted to forgo starters and head straight for the main event. Guests had a choice of homemade pies, which were served with seasonal vegetables, beef dripping chips (vegetarian friendly chips were available) and enough gravy to sink a ship. We wanted to create a feast style vibe therefore guests were encouraged to serve themselves from platters in the middle of tables. Guests were also treated to a decedent choice of desserts. With the mountains of food, the candle lit tables and the flowing ale many of our guests said it felt like a medieval banquet!

We had prosecco as a toasting drink with red and white wine on the table (a gift from my parents – thank you!) and we also gave people a drink on us from the bar – it’s fair to say that we did everything we could to ensure that our beloved guests were fed and watered!


During the day we had live music in the church and the venue supplied by Ryan’s groomsmen Joe (on piano) and Will (on guitar).

Entertainment at the wedding breakfast came in the form of disposable cameras on the tables and a ‘famous double acts’ game: we provided name badges to every guest and they had to work out who their ‘famous partner’ was. The first three couples won a drink on us – it caused absolute chaos but was a brilliant ice breaker post food. Ryan had great fun thinking of the most unlikely of wedding guests to be partnered up together.

In the evening we had The Bourbon Street Band play three sets of live music. The band were fantastic, they played unique covers and took requests all night. They had an ability to read the crowd and pick songs which ensured that the dancefloor was full all night long. As a pair of music lovers having the right band was essential and we were so pleased with the excellent job the band did on the night. So many of our guests said how much fun they had dancing the night away and for us that’s the highest praise a party can receive!


We had lots of special touches throughout the day which included: a typewriter guestbook, Jenga piece guestbook, a family tree with personalised Christmas baubles for every guest, a sweetie table, hundreds of handmade decorative pegs used in the table plan, place names and family tree, and a signpost showing the direction and distance our guests had travelled from around the world.

We had extra personal touches too, such as ‘We love you because….’ place names for our guests complete with a personalised message saying why we love them; a handmade pin board table plan with the table flow following the route of our American road trip (where we got engaged etc) and was complete with polaroid pictures of us on the road! We also had retro postcard table names with diary entries for each place taken directly from our American road trip journal.

Another very special touch to mention was Emily’s personalised church reading entitled ‘A Miracle Such As This’, which brought the whole congregation to tears.


Following our wedding, we would most certainly recommend The Craven Arms to other couples as it’s a fantastic venue set in the beautiful Yorkshire dales. The team were friendly and supportive, they are completely transparent and reasonable in regard to cost and they gave lots of freedom in terms of food and drink options. They’re not your typical wedding venue which means that there are no hidden fees or conditions to worry about – they are exactly what they appear to be – a brilliant bunch of people who love to make wedding days special. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the venue if you’re looking for a small, intimate gathering set within some of the finest countryside in the UK.


The marriage ceremony – it was a part of the day where the stresses and pressures of planning a wedding were completely forgotten. It was a time for Ryan and I to publicly commit our lives to each other in the presence of our loved ones. Eighteen months of planning had led up to that ceremony and it provided a starting point for the rest of our lives together. A wedding day is incredibly important; however a marriage is for life and the ceremony helped us remember what was truly important on such a momentous day for us.


We went up to Northumberland for a week following our wedding. We spent a few nights inland in the Kielder Forest staying in some handmade log cabins in the village of Hesleyside before heading towards to coast. We stopped for a few nights in fantastic little BnB in Belford, taking in all of the coastal delights the area had to offer including the tranquil Holy Island and breath-taking Bamburgh Castle.


Work with your partner – share the responsibility and the pressure. Communicate with each other and try to enjoy the process of planning as much as you can. There will be times where it gets tough and it may feel overwhelming but don’t lose sight of the most important thing – the day is about you and your partner, your loved ones are all there to celebrate you two and a marriage is for life, not just for a day. With that in mind, hopefully you may feel better if things don’t go quite to plan!

You do you! Don’t feel pressure to subscribe to the normal – wear your hair how you want it, choose your favourite colours, not ‘wedding’ colours and take control of your guestlist – the personal touches are what makes it special!

During the planning we used the Brides Up North blog for inspiration. We think that the website is great and we hope that sharing the details of our day will help other couples to plan their weddings.

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