Real Weddings

Charlotte Balbier for a Colourful Garden Wedding at Home – Katherine & Mike

01st July 2020 | Sarah Symonds

Bride Katherine has such fond memories of her childhood home that she knew it would make the perfect venue for her wedding, and she’s invited us in for a closer look at their special day.

Katherine and Mike knew they wanted big colourful florals and punchy patterns, and having a marquee reception in her mum’s lovely garden seemed like the perfect way to get everything exactly as they wanted, right down to the tiny details. Getting married somewhere so personal might not be an option for everyone but, if it is possible, you can really go all out on the DIY wedding vibes! Mike made the dance floor and bar with his own fair hands, while Katherine styled the day and friends and family got involved to grow the flowers and make the afternoon tea spread. And check out that Tuk Tuk gin bar!

We’re head over heels for Katherine’s gorgeous and unusual floral gown, showcasing her personality and own unique style beautifully, although it did take her a while to find The One in amongst all of the more traditional, plain white dresses! It just goes to show that there really is a dream dress out there for everyone so, ladies, don’t be disheartened if you don’t love the first one (or even the first ten) you try on!

With photography by UNVEILED Network Member Lissa Alexandra Photography


Katherine says: We got engaged in April 2018 at Rudding Park Hotel in Harrogate. Mike told me he was having real trouble with his shoulder, needed a massage and figured we may as well tie it in with a spa day and a night away. I wasn’t going to complain! We left the kids with my wonderful mum and off we went. We had a lovely massage, and lazed around the spa and went back to our room to get changed for dinner. I was sat on the end of the bed wondering how I was going to find the energy to get organised, and turned around to find Mike down on one knee asking if I would spend the rest of my life with him! Of course, I said yes and he gave me the most beautiful ring that he had designed himself; a big heart-shaped diamond surrounded by lots of little diamonds. I love anything heart shaped so it was literally my dream ring!


We got married in my family church in the village of Staintondale. All of our children were christened there and my dad is buried there after passing away 15 years ago, so it is close to my heart. The reception was held at my mum’s house in Staintondale, Scarborough on the 29th of June 2019. We wanted to try and get some nice weather and my mum’s garden is always extra beautiful around that time of year.

I grew up in that garden and surroundings, and my dad is no longer with us but I have such fond childhood memories of us all together in that special home. We did consider other venues but it was a no brainer for me.


If I was to sum our day up in a word, it would be ‘natural’. I wanted it really homemade and homegrown. I love bright colours so I wanted ALL the flowers and ALL the colours. Having the celebration at my mum’s house meant we had free rein and it already had a homely natural feel to it. I knew that in those surroundings – my favourite place in this whole world – our wedding would be so full of love, joy and fun, everyone would have the best time and feel comfortable.


I wore Untamed Love by Charlotte Balbier. I got my dress from The Little Pearl Bridal boutique in Pickering, North Yorkshire. Diana was great and so patient with me, as I’m so indecisive! It was never too much trouble going back for a third, fourth, fifth look at my dress before I even put a deposit down on it! They were all absolutely great and have the most gorgeous selection of wedding dresses. I’ve always wanted a floral wedding dress but I tried on so many white dresses and just felt really underwhelmed with all of them. When I tried my dress on, I instantly knew it was made for me. It was more of a pretty vibe than glamorous, and it suited our venue and my personality down to the ground! I loved being a bit different and although it was a full on wedding dress it felt more casual, which I really loved. Everyone I know has commented to say it truly was made for me!


Mike wore a French Connection suit that he, his groomsmen and best men hired from Moss Bros.


My bridesmaids wore the same ASOS dress but some long and some short. I gave the girls the choice of which style they felt most comfortable in. My niece, India, was my flower girl and she wore a bright floral dress from Monsoon.


My lovely friend and (very patient) amazing hairdresser, Lou, did my hair and my best friend’s brother and his gorgeous wife did all the bridesmaids for me as a wedding present. They were so amazing to have around and were wedding guests too, so it felt like I just had extra friends there with us getting ready.


Our friend Paul took me to church in his 4×4 Volvo as it’s literally a two minute drive. I thought he would be perfect for the job and he also brought chilled champagne so I was totally right!


Lissa Alexandra was just the loveliest. Honestly, she is so friendly and chilled, it was like we had known her forever. SO many of my family and friends have commented on how brilliant she was. Nothing fazed her! She was ace with the kids, ace with the adults and even split her trousers, whilst getting the perfect shot of us on the moors, and handled it like a total pro! She provided us with the most natural, unfiltered, real life shots which is exactly what I wanted. I would recommend her to anyone. Lissa also posts previous wedding photos on her social media every now and again, and it’s such a lovely surprise when a little throwback picture from our wedding pops up on my feed. Lissa really is the best in the business.


The lovely Lorraine Leadley did my bouquet and the boy’s buttonholes. I know Lorraine personally and I know her style is big, bright and natural so I knew she would be so perfect for the job. She was so excited to get stuck in, I gave her free rein and boy did she deliver.

Seeing Lorraine on the morning of my wedding was the first time that day I cried! She turned up with the most amazing bouquet of flowers that was just so perfect and better than I could have imagined. She then pulled out a huge flower ring covered in eucalyptus, rosemary, roses, hydrangeas, gerberas – it was just the best thing ever! We hung it in the marquee and it looked so wonderful all day. Lorraine is so clever, a total sweetheart and a pleasure to deal with.

We grew all of our decorative flowers ourselves, enlisting the help of neighbours and friends from far and wide to grow things for us! My mum and a few of her friends arranged them all in vases and they looked amazing. Mum also made 500 metres of bunting to hang up in the marquee while I bought rows of hessian to go down the middle of the tables. The table cloths were just white flat sheets from Asda, I sprinkled homemade confetti down the centres and we cut down a tree and used the trunk up to make 22 big round rustic wooden boards. I then had all the food on cake stands and the wooden round boards. We put up loads of fairy lights and my very clever husband made the bar, dance floor and the picnic benches himself.

The Brides Up North blog is always so good to get inspiration from other weddings and you always see something you hadn’t thought of!


I picked sloes and made my own sloe gin in the autumn of 2018, then bought 100 small plastic bottles from ebay and filled them, adding a little tag that said “Thank you for sharing our day”.


My mum made my cake! Bottom layer of fruit cake, middle layer was lemon drizzle and a top layer of carrot cake. She decorated it with fresh flowers which looked amazing but, because it was the hottest day of the year, they wilted pretty quickly unfortunately. I absolutely loved that my mum made it and it was the tastiest cake ever!


We did all the food ourselves with a little (or a lot!) of help from our wonderful friends and family. We served afternoon tea, purely because we would be able to get it ready early. My sister, two of my friends and I made about a thousand sandwiches on the morning of the wedding; roast beef, roast ham, smoked salmon and cream cheese, egg and cress and cream cheese and cucumber. We bought six big round pork pies and my mum made a quiche per table while my lovely mates, Paul and Katey, made 130 individual vegetarian tarts, which were by far the winning item! I ordered 130 scones from one of my sister’s best friends who is a star baker, which we served with clotted cream and jam. Then two of my other friends baked macaroons, chocolate brownies, cakes and all sorts of tasty desserts for afters. There was so much food but it looked absolutely amazing and really was a team effort!

We put bottles of red and white wine on each table and had our own bar in the marquee that Mike had made, stocked with Wold Top beer, Guinness, cider, soft drinks, and wine. We also had a mobile gin bar, Tuks Fizz, outside the marquee, serving gin, cocktails and shots and they had a queue of people there all night!


The Mixtapes are a Scarborough-based band. They’re such nice guys, including my brother-in-law! They’re absolutely amazing at what they do, the dance floor was jam packed all night and they patiently dealt with all of the drunken requests at midnight when they were trying to wind down! Dan, the lead singer, was my middle son’s guitar teacher and George wanted to learn a song to play at the wedding. He learnt Jack Johnson’s Good People and played it with the band at the reception, which was absolutely amazing.

Our first dance was to Let’s Get Married by The Proclaimers, one of our all-time favourite songs and so fitting!

Thanks to

My mum for hosting our wedding! I would 100% recommend getting married somewhere that is special to you, if that’s possible. If it’s not then make it personal, for example a field with a marquee in that you can fill it with everything that you love and be completely in charge of your own day. I spent a year gathering bits and bobs that I knew would come in handy or look pretty on the day and just kept putting it in boxes in our spare room. When it came to emptying all the boxes I had so much stuff to hang and decorate with, and it didn’t feel like a huge expense all at once or lots of hard work as I had done it slowly.

Best bit

My favourite part of the day was after the ceremony, when Mike and I had seen and hugged all of our amazing guests so we snuck off, up to the cliffs in Ravenscar, for photos. The weather was so hot! We got in Paul’s car and he had the air-con running, handed us a freezing cold bottle of champagne and a cold beer. I had my new husband next to me and it was so lovely to just have that time with no distractions and just us. We had such a lovely time having our photos done and I really loved that alone time before we returned to the party, which was in full swing

My two boys (aged 10 and 11) from a previous relationship, did a speech/poem about Mike at the reception that we had written together. They gave me the material and I made it rhyme, then they did the most incredible job of reading it out and 90% of our guests cried! I’ve never seen so many grown men in one place so emotional! The boys were more emotional than I expected too, so I think that made it more emotional for everyone! It was a complete surprise for Mike and seeing his face was so amazing!


The day after the wedding, we left the boys with my mum and Mike and I went to the Lake District for two nights. We stayed at Low Wood Bay Hotel right next to Lake Windermere. It was like being abroad, it was so warm! We had the best time ever and usually I’m always keen to get back to the boys but honestly I could have stayed there for a week. Then we took the boys to Portugal for a week in August, for a ‘familymoon’ which was the best holiday we have ever had and it was so nice to all be together for a whole week with no work or school.


My advice would be to enjoy every second of your day. Look around and breathe it in. Sneak off with your new husband, if not for photos, just for half an hour time-out. It is precious time and, once you get back to the party, it’s likely your guests will have you in different places all night! Look after yourself and have yourself a brilliant time.

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