A gorgeous summer soiree, Abigail and Nichola’s big day celebrations were filled with sunlight, laughter and love.
Finding their perfect venue in East Riddlesden Hall’s dreamy Airedale Barn, they planned the details around a fitting rustic theme to complement the countryside setting and added a host of personal and homemade touches along the way too.
Reams of fairy lights were wrapped around the barn’s beams for extra ambience while candle lit log slices and single-stem jars adorned the tables, further enhancing the romantic feels.
Catering for guests of all ages, Abigail and Nichola went all out on the entertainment with an acoustic singer, string trio and live band providing the music, and a magician and garden games delivering the fun factor.
Abigail says: We got engaged in Lanzarote on 12th August 2016. Somehow, I managed to smuggle the ring through passport control and into Lanzarote keeping it hidden underneath the padding of an earring box, though the proposal wasn’t quite as smooth!
I’d booked a romantic Italian restaurant on the beach front for dinner one night, but our excitable six-year-old son Dylan had refused every day to have a siesta, so come around 9pm he was out for the count. We decided to risk it and go for the meal anyway.
An hour in, Dylan was sloped on the table fast asleep with his food next to him and Nic saying “let’s just get a taxi back”. I refused to change plans though. Nic carried Dylan out of the restaurant, over her shoulder with me demanding we take a walk on the beach. After a bit of prodding I managed to wake Dylan up enough to show him the locks along the beach front (obviously all part of the plan…though, not quite!). As Nic and Dylan were looking, I produced a lock with ‘Nic, Abi & Dylan’ inscribed on it with the date of our first holiday together and asked them to find the perfect spot to put it (giving opportunity to get the ring). Nic and Dylan fastened the lock into place then I, on one knee, told Nic to turn the lock over where it read “Nic…will you marry me?”
She was very shocked but during my proposal speech Dylan was shouting in the background “Nic, Nic, Nic look at this one look at this… Nic listen to me!” so she never actually heard exactly what I had said. Thankfully though, she said yes!
Our wedding took place on 17th August 2019. The time between booking and walking down the aisle gave us the right amount of time to save, save, save and book some of the best suppliers in their field. We wouldn’t change anything about the day – it was simply perfect!
For the setting, we chose East Riddlesden Hall, West Yorkshire. We looked at so many venues, and each one had some down side to it – kind of like buying a house, we had decided we were going to have to compromise somewhere along the line, but then we saw East Riddlesden and the Airedale Barn and fell in love. Nic already knew the venue as she owns a property close by and it was somewhere she visited often with her parents. Nic’s father is no longer with us so there was a strong connection to being close to him on the big day. As for me, as soon as we drove down the entrance driveway and it opened up with the lake, I knew it was the one. I grew up on a family farm which had a big central lake and lots of farmhouses and barns surrounding it where my cousins lived. It reminded me so much of happy times there and I could imagine our wedding day there as soon as we got into the barn.
Our theme was a rustic, which suited the barn completely. We had navy blue as a statement colour then ivory and white, plus lots of hessian and homemade touches.
My fit and flare, figure-hugging dress was from Celebrations Bridal House in Ossett, and was by Stella York. The ladies did an amazing job at altering it to fit my 5ft stature and with boning to the bodice, cup fillers and a fitted hoop to give the right swing when I walked – it was like a second skin.
Our bridesmaids wore a mixture of dresses, all from Monsoon. Two maxi dresses with lace detail and two shorter skater style dresses with lace in the same detail. My sister has an amazing figure and as she was my maid of honour on the day, she wore a very fitted version of the maxi dress.
Our two beautiful flower girls, Penny and Mary, both wore ivory lace flower girl dresses, which I picked up on Wish.com and hand stitched the navy belts on to match the older girls.
Nic’s brothers Oliver and Nathan, Nic’s stepfather Ian, and my father all wore matching grey suits and tan brogues with navy ties, which we hired from Yorkshire Menswear in Leeds. They were ever so attentive and even managed to match our page boys’ and Dylan’s suits in with the men.
Nic and her maid of honour used a local salon where Nic has always gone, Rumours in Bingley. She had her hair done by Donna. Megan Dermot did Nic’s makeup.
My bridesmaids and sister went to a local salon to the venue in the morning and then came back and got dressed at Ash Mount Cottage where we stayed for the weekend.
I had my hair and makeup done by Natalie Willingham. She also did an amazing job of my mother’s hair and makeup.
The bridesmaids travelled together in one car to the venue, so they were ahead of us. Nic and her maid of honouor travelled in an old-fashioned Jaguar. I then travelled with my dad in an amazing sage green campervan hired from Liberty Campers. Jan, who we had as the driver on the day was so amazing. She kept both me and my dad calm when we were hyperventilating in the back.
We’d had nothing but rain all week and as soon as we went over the hills to the venue in the campervan the sun came out for us. It was a special car journey that I think both me and my dad will cherish forever.
The amazingly talented Lissa Alexandra was our photographer. I used to shoot weddings myself once I’d finished photography at college and knew that this would be a supplier we would find hard to choose. Not only that, for personal reasons I absolutely hate someone else taking my picture. Nic also isn’t massively confident in front of a lens so we wanted someone who would capture the natural moments and where we kind of didn’t know they were being taken.
Lissa listened to all our wishes at our first meeting in York and we knew then that she was the one. Her soft approach to wedding photography makes her unique in the field. Her eye for detail and moments that anyone else would not see she manages to capture. We have had so many comments on our beautiful photographs and love to look back on them. They are now plastered all over our families’ homes and we made our close relatives a personalised photo book with hundreds of Lissa’s photos in for Christmas – it was the first time they had seen them all properly.
We used Stems Design for our flowers. I went for a ‘messy’ bouquet with lots of greenery, ivory and champagne Spray Roses and Nic’s was more of a neat, round bouquet with fresh herbs and aspects of Freesia.
Again, we used Stems Design for the flowers in the barn. She created amazing centrepieces with matching champagne Spray Roses, log slices, bark lanterns with floating candles and bottles with single flowers and a few posies with lots of tealights.
We used Marvellous Glow to place festoon lighting all around the lake, which looked magical in the evening. We also had them string extra lighting around all of the beams inside to warm the place up as the Airedale Barn is so old it is also quite dark in there, so the lighting massively changed the atmosphere.
Typical Type kindly contacted us a week before the wedding and asked if we would like the Edison lighting above the top table… of course, we said yes!
For outdoors, we hired some hay bales from Whitaker Animal Feeds, which came in extra helpful at the end of the night when some guests had consumed far too much alcohol (including my dad!) and needed them as a bed.
My creative side meant that I didn’t feel comfortable not having some handmade elements to our wedding, and so I made all our reservation seats and order of service booklets, which looked lovely and meant guests were able to seat themselves easily without much guidance.
I also made all the children’s rustic activity packs. We had 25 children at our wedding, and these kept them busy throughout the meal.
I work in education catering and manage a group of amazing chefs. One of our head chefs made us more than 100 little homemade jams and chutneys as favours, which we personalised with little stickers and rustic patterned material on the top. None of them were left over at all.
We went for a semi-naked cake. A traditional sponge glazed with ivory icing and some of our flowers trailing down each tier. The cake topper was also rustic with “Always” written on it. Eat Me Drink Me, our chosen caterers, made our cake.
We chose a three-course dinner catered by Eat Me Drink Me. The staff made it look effortless and Lucy was ever so helpful as it was quite a mammoth task sorting out dishes as well as table seating and the many allergies our guests had. The starter was sharing boards, both meat and vegetarian, followed by mains of feather blade of Yorkshire beef or chicken supreme with mushrooms in a creamy sauce for the meat eaters and sweet potato and goats cheese strudel for the vegetarians. We then had a trio of desserts: sticky toffee pudding, berry pavlova and lemon tart. There was a separate menu for the children too.
We had Linzi Brian sing us down the aisle, accompanied by Grazia Strings. Since our wedding two of our friends have now booked her for theirs as she had everyone in tears. Linzi also sang throughout the drinks reception and our meal, which was so lovely.
As the barn was transformed from our day reception to evening, we had band Monotones to get everyone up on the dancefloor (not that they needed much persuasion!). The band played Hold My Hand by Jess Glyn as an acoustic, stripped-down version for our first dance.
We also used Add Vintage for outdoor games, such as giant noughts and crosses and boules, which kept the kids (and adults) entertained!
Finally, we hired Mark Waddington the magician to make the wedding extra magical.
We would recommend our choice of venue a hundred times over. Everything from the staff to the venue itself was amazing. We had Chloe as our wedding planner, and she made things run so easily. Even when there were slight hiccups, we didn’t know anything about them as she sorted it effortlessly. We have remained in contact since and we will be sure to pop in and say hello when visiting the venue in the future. The team were like family after three years being in touch and planning. There’s a fab picture of Chloe reapplying my lippy on the day – nothing was too much trouble!
I think my favourite part, other than saying the “I dos” was going for a little ride in the campervan over the moors and hillside just me and Nic, and Jan driving. We did this just after the main photos were taken after the ceremony. It gave us chance to be ‘us’ and take in everything. A wedding is one of the most amazing days of your life but being quite quiet people at times it was also overwhelming. Getting out in the fresh air and having that special time was so great. If you can, definitely fit in some time for it just to be you two as a newly married couple. Your guests will be fine, and you will cherish that moment for a lifetime.
We travelled to Santorini in Greece. Somewhere we’d always wanted to go. We rode horses through the volcanic rocks to the sunset on the beach, did the sunset cruise and met some other newlyweds and stayed in a lovely little villa complex which we had to ourselves most of the time. If you haven’t been you must go!
Don’t get too stressed about guests. Those who love you will be there for you and celebrate your day with you. Those that don’t, won’t, and I can assure you on the day you won’t think about it as you will be so in the moment celebrating with your family and friends who are there.
Also, make sure you book your suppliers on recommendation and talent. Take that bit longer to save and book in advance if you need to. Recommended suppliers are usually not the cheapest, but they are simply worth their weight in gold and earn every penny of that cost as they make your lives so much easier when it comes to planning.
During the planning stages we used Brides Up North’s features to inspire our rustic accessories – the use of old rustic ladders and photos of family past came from there. The real weddings section is great as it gives you ideas that have been put into practice by others. Also, you see that no wedding is the same. That’s what makes it unique to you both as a couple. Try to bring your own ideas and personalities into your day.