After an incredibly turbulent 12 months for brides and grooms, we’re delighted to be bringing you a positive 2020 wedding story on the blog today.
Despite being up against ever-changing Covid restrictions, our featured couple, Kelly and Sam, still managed to pull off their dream wedding on 5th September 2020, exchanging their vows at chic city hotel, The Grand York.
Rules in place at the time meant reducing their original guest list of 86 day guests and 110 evening guests, to 24 for their ceremony and 28 for their wedding breakfast. It also meant forgoing the usual entertainment and dance-filled evening do that many take for granted as part of their day.
However, after ten years together, the couple had decided that, for them, postponing wasn’t an option and so with the help of their venue and a proactive team of suppliers, love conquered and their celebrations went ahead.
Though it might not have been what they originally planned, bride Kelly says they “could not imagine it any other way now” with their scaled back nuptials altering their views on what really mattered to them.
Kelly says: We had discussed getting married a lot over the years, it was something we both knew we wanted. We originally met at school when we were 14. Everyone at school joked that we were the Ross and Rachel (from Friends) of our school year as we were on again and off again all the time.
Once we rekindled our relationship aged 18 our favourite place to visit together became Edinburgh. We have stayed there many times over the years but the first time we went as a couple I thought we were staying in a Travelodge, but Sam had booked a luxury stay in The Balmoral as a surprise. Then eight years later, on our 10th anniversary trip to Edinburgh we got engaged there.
Sam had emailed the hotel to ask if we could get engaged on the roof, unfortunately the weather was not on his side so the hotel organised an incredible room upgrade to one of their Grand suites. I was so blown away with the room I was taking photos and videoing the room before we unpacked any of our things. You can hear Sam on the video saying, “right put that down now” because he had already asked the concierge to bring up some champagne, so he was running out of time. I wish I had still been recording when I turned around to him down on one knee! His proposal was very emotional but short and sweet as he’s “not good with words” – his words, not mine. We were both teary eyed as I said yes, and we sealed the deal with a kiss! We spent the rest of the trip getting dressed up, eating delicious food and sipping on champagne. It turned out to be great that he proposed as soon as we arrived, as we were in our own little bubble of happiness for the rest of the trip!
Our wedding date was 5th September 2020, which we chose as it was our 11th anniversary. It gave us just under a year to plan the whole wedding and ended up being the perfect date in relation to the events that unfolded as we were able to have a full ceremony and wedding breakfast for 30 people. Shortly after our wedding, Covid restrictions meant the number of people allowed at a wedding was reduced to just 15.
Our chosen venue was The Grand York, where we stayed for a night on our return journey home after getting engaged. We had considered getting married in Edinburgh but decided the location wouldn’t work for a number of our guests. When we contacted The Grand to see what availability they had, the events manager Lauren replied within five minutes and advised us that they had 5th September 2020 available. The following day we went to meet Lauren and view the venue – at that point we just knew it was the right place for us. She was just amazing, and I felt like I could ask and tell her anything. I never thought I would pick a city centre venue, which had no outside space of its own, but it was just right.
The hotel is also the original headquarters of The North Eastern Railway Company and we both work for the railway now, plus Sam has a fondness for the railway as his father also works for them. My dad also tiled areas of the hotel, including the Grand Heritage Suite that we stayed in over our wedding weekend. Everything we discovered about the hotel was just affirming our feelings about the venue. It just all fit perfectly, we felt at home.
The styling for the wedding was elegant romance. The details needed to complement the refined luxury and opulence of the venue, but also be romantic, timeless and chic.
The wedding colour scheme was dusty rose. As our wedding was at the very beginning of September, I felt like it was still too close to summer to opt for an autumnal colour palette. The colour scheme developed from a lunchtime stroll around York market. The flower stall had a huge bucket of Memory Lane roses for sale. As soon as I saw them, I fell in love. The deep dusty rose colour that framed the edge of each petal, softly faded into a muted pastel shade. They were romantic, elegant and timeless – everything I was looking for.
My wedding dress was from Broughton’s Bridal in my hometown of Garforth. I initially went with two of my bridesmaids and I tried on around five dresses which were all very different, a ballgown with ruffles, a backless slim fit with a high neckline, a blush colour, a simple satin A-line and then ‘the one’. I knew before we arrived that day that I wouldn’t be buying one instantly as I needed my mum to see me in it first and I felt no pressure at all to buy. A few days later I went into Leeds with my mum and had a bad experience at another bridal shop, so very deflated and disappointed while on the train home, I called Haley at Broughton’s and asked if she had any room to fit me in that afternoon, and she did! I knew which dress I liked the most from the appointment I had had with my bridesmaids a few days before, and that dress ended up being the only one that my mum cried for when I tried it on. At that point I definitely knew it was ‘the one’. Haley was incredible throughout and I could not recommend her enough! She made the whole process from start to finish a dream.
My wedding dress was the ‘Lunetta’ fit and flare gown designed by Morilee. I chose this dress as I just felt like me in it. I was comfortable but felt like a million dollars all at the same time. It’s hard to describe but it wasn’t an overwhelming feeling of ‘this is the one’, it was more like that the others all had a ‘this isn’t me’ sort of feeling. The dress had simple spaghetti straps with a matching waistband, it was covered in beautiful beading that glistened when it caught the light, and it was embroidered with lace appliqués and had a delicate scalloped hemline. The bodice of the dress had a removable panel which I had altered so that the front of the dress remained demure but the back of the dress had an illusion V-back, with a concealed zipper with covered button detail. During my fitting I decided to pair a Morilee waist belt with the dress, and as the original straps were plain, I had them altered, adding beading and lace to match the rest of the dress.
My something old for my wedding day was a silver sixpence from 1942 that I tied to my shoe, the year my grandad was born who was unable to be with us as he passed away four years ago.
Sam wore a navy three-piece Samuel Slater Luxury suit from Slaters. He wore it with a white polka dot and navy tie and pocket square, and a brown brogues and belt. The polka dot tie and pocket square seemed a little quirky for us to some people, but we had seen this combination at a wedding showcase and knew it was perfect for Sam. I knew I didn’t want the usual approach of matching the groom’s tie to the bridesmaid dresses, if felt too conventional and uninspiring. To complement the white polka dots, Sam’s buttonhole was an Avalanche Rose, white Veronica and Argyle Apple Eucalyptus. It was beautiful. I bought Sam some cufflinks as a wedding present which had the lyrics from our first dance (Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol) engraved in them.
Due to the restrictions in place we chose not to have any groomsmen for our wedding. However, my dad and our best man Scott, wore the same outfit as Sam. I also bought my dad cufflinks with the lyrics engraved from the song I wanted to have our father daughter dance to, we were unable to actually do it due to Covid restrictions but as I picked the song for the lyrics, I still wanted my dad to have them with him on the day. The lyrics were from the song ‘Daddy’ by Abby Anderson.
My bridesmaids wore the Kily dress from TFNC in pale mauve. The dresses were the perfect colour! It took us five attempts to find the perfect shade and style of dress to suit all five of my bridesmaids. The Kily dress was perfect. The gathered wrap style bodice was very flattering and was suitable for all types of underwear. The plush satin waistband and the elegant chiffon created a beautiful silhouette.
My makeup artist was Charlotte Wilson of CW Artistry. She is incredibly talented; my skin was flawless all day. She is also the nicest person, my trial was amazing too, she made me feel so comfortable and time flew by.
My hair stylist was UNVEILED Network Member Lottie Haigh and on the day she brought Ashley Tyrell to assist. Between them my bridesmaids and mum looked amazing. Lottie created for me the most amazing updo that was soft and romantic but secure enough to hold my heavy cathedral length veil.
Our wedding photographer was Jane Beadnell. When we were looking for a photographer, I found around eight I liked and then together with Sam we narrowed it down. We set up meetings with three and Jane was the second meeting we had. After we visited Jane, viewed some more of her work and discussed her photography style, we ended up booking with her and cancelling the third meeting. We both just felt she would be able to capture our day in the way we wanted, and boy were we right!
Our images from the day are amazing, I’m finding it so hard to narrow them down enough to make selections for our wedding album. Jane is such a calming presence on your wedding day, she’s there but not there, she’s helpful and supportive and she captures the most amazing memories. I love that I got to see the unseen moments and emotions of our day through her images.
We struggled with finding a videographer. Sam wasn’t that interested in booking one as he just thought we would never sit down and watch hours’ worth of footage. I, however, really wanted at least a highlight reel of our wedding day. Most of the ones I looked at were very expensive and we didn’t have much of our budget left. Then Sam’s brother was best man at his friend’s wedding and was tagged on Facebook in their wedding video. It was beautiful and when I enquired it turned out the videographer – Simon Sweeny of SS Productions – did a highlight only package at a reduced cost. This made my day and I booked instantly. We can’t wait to see the footage!
The florist we used was Dutch Nurseries. Sarah was great when we met to go through our ideas and she was thorough in explaining what we could expect in terms of quality and availability at the time of year we were getting married. Also, what we could use to create texture and add depth to my bouquet.
We chose a hand-tied chappel, egg design to be loose and open. Including three types of Roses (Memory lane, Menta, Avalanche), Astilbe, Freesia white, Astrantia, Veronica white with a touch of small headed Gypsophila and mixed Eucalyptus foliage. Finished with a cream organza ribbon at the tying point with pearl pin detail. My bridesmaids also had hand tied bouquets consisting of Freesia white and mixed Eucalyptus foliage with the same ribbon and pin detail as my own. The all white flowers looked stunning next to the bridesmaid dresses.
When we approached Sarah at Dutch nurseries, I had in my head the idea of creating a large floral installation in one of the fireplaces at the venue, we discussed shape and size and how we could tie it with my bouquet. She used one of the hotel’s wedding fairs to trial the idea and it worked perfectly. She created the most breath-taking fireplace installation that was designed to flow up the left-hand side of the fireplace at the ceremony end of the room, extending two thirds along the fireplace consisting of constructed foliage with my wedding flowers interspersed throughout. It was exactly how I pictured it would be!
Our venue stylists were Laura and Hannah from Ambience Venue Styling York. We had already designed and planned out our décor based on our original wedding of 86 people using large round tables. Thankfully most of our décor plans were still in place for our wedding ceremony, however due to the covid restrictions we ended up having to completely re-plan our wedding décor for our wedding breakfast. Our seating plan changed to four long banqueting tables set out in an open rectangle design, it was such an intimate setting we wanted to be able to see all our guests so we decided to dress the tables with varying height candlelight, and simple votives of florals with foliage to be intertwined running the length each table. They created the most perfect, intimate, romantic and elegant setting, bringing together all the different elements of our wedding.
We also had light-up ‘love’ letters from Charlotte at UNVEILED Network Member Loves Lights The Way and I booked for Claire from Unique Balloons to create a balloon cloud surrounding them. It created the most incredible backdrop for photos.
Our wedding stationery was from StudioYelle on Etsy and our wedding signage was from Mally’s Crafts.
Our wedding favours matched our styling perfectly. They were the Charbonnel et Walker Pink Marc de Champagne Chocolate Truffles encased in exquisite pink mini heart shaped boxes.
We had booked for a four tier, four flavoured, chocolate covered extravagantly decorated wedding cake. Once we knew we would not be able to have a wedding for more than 30 people we decided to cancel the booking, thinking we wouldn’t have a cake at all. Then one of my bridesmaids made me a cake for my garden hen party after the original one they had planned had to be cancelled. It was a simple three layer vanilla sponge semi-naked cake, and it was delicious! We asked if she would be willing to make our wedding cake for us, and she said yes!
We were lucky enough to still be able to have a full menu tasting at our venue in August. We were really happy that we could still have some of the excitement of normal wedding planning leading up to our big day despite the ever changing covid restrictions. We got to try all the canapes, four different options for each wedding breakfast course, as well and the wine that would be served on the day. We had a selection of canapes and then our wedding breakfast consisted of glazed Crotin de Chavignol with Mediterranean vegetables, pesto and tapenade croûte to start; a raspberry sorbet course; then corn fed chicken with fondant potato, baby vegetables and wild mushroom sauce for main. Dessert was raspberry iced souffle with white chocolate sauce.
I would 100% recommend our venue. Firstly, both the events manager Lauren, and wedding coordinator Jodie, were exceptional at keeping us calm and informed during the ever changing covid restrictions. They both ensured we were fully aware of what would be happening on the day and we could not have asked for more from either of them. We genuinely felt like they were over the moon for us that we were able to get married! The service on the day from Sam, Chris and the team was impeccable, and if anything at all went awry we were blissfully unaware. The food was delicious and presented superbly. The building itself is steeped in history and the ceremony room is fully lined in the most stunning panelling with each window adorned with floor to ceiling crushed velvet drapes.
We would also recommend all our suppliers. We had excellent service and communication from all of them throughout and each one delivered exactly what we asked for on the day.
I would highly recommend Jane and Simon, our photographer and videographer. On the day they were more than just a photographer and videographer, they were both so helpful and worked well beside each other throughout despite having only met that morning.
If anyone is considering using a venue stylist, from our experience of Ambience, I could not recommend this enough! Initially I had thought I would do all the decor myself, and while this may have come in as a less expensive option, I am beyond glad that we chose to have Laura and Hannah there on the day to create the most chic and romantic setting for us to celebrate our wedding in. I did not have to lift a finger. There was no set up, no clean up and no worries!
There are so many parts of the day that stand out for me as a bride. All so different yet just as special as one another. Handing out my bridesmaid gifts and receiving letters back from each of them and also one from Sam had me in tears – fortunately this was before I had had my makeup done! But I think my favourite moment was walking down the aisle with my dad towards Sam and exchanging our vows. In that moment when we were saying our vows, it felt like nothing else and no one else mattered at all, I didn’t even feel like anyone else was in the room at that point. Sam’s favourite part of the day was when the speeches were over and the pressure was off, he is definitely not one for being the centre of attention.
As we couldn’t confidently book an abroad honeymoon, we decided to spend three nights in Edinburgh at The Balmoral. As we have visited the city several times, to make this trip special, we made sure everything we did and everywhere we visited or ate was somewhere we had never been before. We climbed Arthur’s Seat, went gin tasting at Edinburgh Gin’s distillery, visited Dean village and completed part of the Water of Leith Walkway.
Communication and organisation. Clear communication with suppliers is key. Be honest about what you are looking for. Use photos to help explain what you are envisioning for your day. Be realistic with your budgets and keep track of what you are spending. Everyone says it, and it’s not that I didn’t believe it, but your day really does fly by! If you can, take a moment with your new hubby or wife and just embrace the amazing thing you have just done!
In terms of the current situation our advice would be to just do it! If you can do it, don’t wait! On the day, in that moment when you are saying your vows, nothing else and no one else matters at all, you don’t even realise anyone else is in the room! So, if you have 15 guests or 50 it really will not matter! Marrying your other half and getting to start your married life together is just the most incredible feeling.
We originally had planned for a wedding for 86 day guests and 110 evening guests. During the full lockdown we decided that no matter what, as long as we could legally get married that we would not be postponing. After over 10 years together we just knew that waiting was not the right decision for us. We were able to have 24 guests for the ceremony and 28 guests for the wedding breakfast. While it was not what we would have planned we could not imagine it any other way now. The whole day was so chilled and stress free. Looking back at the photos of the day, while social distancing was adhered to, it is not obviously apparent on the photos, the ceremony layout and seating plan all had to be amended to be covid secure, but and our photos are still incredible. All my hair and make-up suppliers wore full PPE while we were getting ready. At the end of the night my friends all commented on how our wedding had changed their view of an intimate wedding and how much they enjoyed it. Our venue and wedding planners were amazing, we could not have asked for better service under normal circumstances let alone during the pandemic.