Real Weddings

Ti Adora by Allison Webb for a Big British Wedding at Woodhill Hall – Catherine & Séb

Sarah Symonds

Part French, part English, this Woodhill Hall wedding is fully glorious and we can’t wait to show you all the gorgeous details! It’s al fresco, there are blooms and blossoms galore and such a pretty, soft colour palette – you’re sure to be swooning!

After all sorts of behind the scenes tech tweaks (designed to make your browsing even better than before – watch this space!), babes, we are back! And my goodness have we got a backlog of wedding beauties to be sharing with you. Today’s featured wedding is our couple’s UK-based celebration, following the official ceremony in Nice, and they’ve nailed it by plumping for the quintessentially British, cute and quirky Woodhill Hall in Northumberland. Catherine and Séb might spend most of their time in Paris but they wanted to both return to their hometowns when it came to venues for tying the knot. Très romantic!

With just a gentle nod to their love of books, this wedding was all about Catherine and Séb in every possible way. They opted to have a humanist ceremony for this wedding, which was far more personal and appropriate for them, and didn’t involve roping in any of their friends to do the honours! And of course, as a nod to their shared home of Paris, the wedding wouldn’t be complete without macarons – a whole tower no less!

With photography by UNVEILED Network Member LSM Photography


Séb proposed on the Ile Aux Cygnes (Island of Swans), a small island on the Seine with a secret view of the Eiffel Tower. He had tried to propose a few times before that but unfortunately it rained for about six weekends in a row, so eventually he decided to just go for it, with a very romantic but slightly mumbly (from nerves) down-on-one-knee proposal. It was a total surprise for me, followed by champagne on a boat bar nearby (we then served that same brand of champagne at our french wedding reception).


We live in Paris but Catherine is British, from Newcastle, and Séb is from Nice in France. We had always planned to have two weddings; a legal wedding in Nice and a humanist celebration at Woodhill Hall in Otterburn. We were very fortunate to keep our first wedding date on the 22nd of August 2020, to get legally wed, but had to postpone our UK celebration to the 2nd of August 2021 due to Covid.

Our French wedding was at the local Mairie and the reception was held in Séb’s family’s garden and then at one of our favourite local restaurants. We were married by the Mayor of Colomars, a friend of the Tollardo family, and we had traditional live music. They played as we left the Mairie and again at our garden drinks reception. Keeping our legal wedding local meant all four of Séb’s grandparents could share our special day with us.

Our UK wedding was at Woodhill Hall. Catherine fell in love with the venue at first sight – particularly swayed by the tipi…and the Pimms in teacups served at the open day. Something we were really happy to have included on our big day!

We both loved how unique the venue felt, with lots of different spaces for guests to spend time in, plenty of room for everyone to stay over and a two night package meaning we could make more precious memories with our friends (which was especially treasured after Covid). The view of Northumberland from the wedding ceremony terrace is especially gorgeous and we were so pleased to have a sunny day and have the outdoor ceremony of our dreams!


We had soft pinks and greens for our colour scheme, plus books! We both love reading. It was one of the things we bonded over on our first date when we discovered we both had the same favourite novel, The Great Gatsby. It also linked in quite nicely because by the time we had our UK wedding, we were almost one year into our official marriage, which is the year of paper.

We integrated the theme in a variety of ways. Each table was named after one of our favourite books. The top table was the Great Gatsby of course! Each table then had a quote from one of the books.

We tied up stacks of old colourful books on each table. These were from my grandfather’s collection who sadly passed away just six months before the wedding. Our table plan was also in the Penguin book theme style. The name cards were Penguin postcards of book covers and we tried to pick ones that reminded us of each guest. I used my calligraphy skills to do these. Séb even ended up integrating the book theme into his speech order too, starting at Chapter One!

We actually chose to have a humanist ceremony. We discovered humanist ceremonies when we were looking for a wedding celebrant for our UK wedding, as we would already be officially married in France, where we are residents. However, once we learnt about humanist ceremonies, we felt it was perfect for us, as it allows us to reflect on the story of our life together in a really personal way without religious or state imposed restrictions. We had Kate Owens-Palmer, a local humanist celebrant.

It was actually through reading about the wedding of one of the Brides Up North Features Writers, Rachel, that I learned about humanist ceremonies and decided that this would be perfect for us! We had not heard of them before and were originally just going to ask a friend to help with the ceremony. Hiring a humanist celebrant worked much better for us, as we knew running a ceremony would be a big ask to a friend.


For our Newcastle wedding I found ‘the dress’ at UNVEILED Network Member boutique Epernay Bridal in Gosforth, I never thought I’d pick a strapless dress but I loved the neckline and it made me feel like Grace Kelly. The girls at Epernay were so welcoming and offered a highly personalised service. I was really happy to find ‘the one’ in my hometown of Gosforth with these ladies. The designer was Ti Adora by Allison Webb.

For my civil wedding in France, I went for a white cape jacket and cropped trouser set from Zara with a homemade polka dot veil.


The men wore Moss Bros suits. We chose a typically English countryside style tweed suit in green, to match the colour scheme.


Our bridesmaids dresses were from Rewritten, the Mykonos dress in green. We bought them before Covid but it was quite funny as we ended up going on honeymoon to Mykonos after our first civil wedding (the original plan was Thailand before Covid happened). I just love the Rewritten style and it was exactly what I had in mind, and it suited all of my ladies. I did offer them the choice of different shapes but they all went for the Mykonos style in the end.


Hair was by Michelle from The Hair and Beauty Haus, I was so happy with the old Hollywood style curls she created for me to match my Grace Kelly dress!

Makeup was by Laura at Laura Mac Makeup. Laura is actually from Redcar but she did my makeup when I was bridesmaid for one of my best friends, Jen. It was the first time I’d had my makeup done professionally as I’m usually very low-key when it comes to beauty, and I just loved how natural her style was. Laura and Lyndsey (our photographer) were my two must-haves when I first booked the wedding date. I was so happy they were both free and they both did an incredible job!


Our wonderful photographer was Lyndsey of LSM Photography. We’d met Lyndsey before at one of my best friend’s weddings and we just loved her style and how comfortable she made everyone feel.

Lyndsey is so bubbly and has such an incredible talent for capturing those natural candid moments. Lyndsey was the first person I contacted when we got our original date as we knew she was the one we really wanted to shoot our special day.


Our flowers were a mix of green foliage, dahlias and roses. Our signature flower was the cafe au lait dahlias, which is one of our absolute favourites. Our flower providers were Ginger House Garden, who did my bridal bouquet, the bridesmaid bouquets and buttonholes, the aisle flowers that doubled up as table centres, an asymmetrical open floral arch used as ceremony backdrop and then after to frame the top table, the top table arrangement and decoration for our macaron tower.
The rest of the decorations were a mixture. We hired some items from Muscari Events – wicker chairs, blush pink candles and candle holders. Stationery calligraphy and hand lettering was done by me (LaJoieDeLettre) and the penguin table names and invites were kindly designed by our friend Sean Edgar Design.

We had a table called Generations of Love where we had framed wedding photos from our parents’, grandparents’ and my brothers’ weddings. This table was also at our French wedding. Then, instead of a photobooth we used a mini instax camera for guests to take photos and add to their guestbook entries. As an added bonus, we still use the camera to this day to capture happy moments together.

We used PhotoLine in Newcastle to print out our seating plan, table names, order of the day welcome sign and stationery. They were super helpful with an incredibly quick turnaround! Special thanks to Andrew at Photoline.


We had personalised seed packets that donated to a bee charity.


Our cake was created by my sister-in-law’s mum, Cakes and Curls. We went for lemon flavour, since lemons remind us of the South of France, where Séb is from. We had personalised peg figurines on top created by LottieLittleOnes. We also had a macaron tower from Le Mini Macaron, as a nod to Paris.


For food at Woodhill Hall we had two or three choices per course, including lobster risotto, Beef Wellington or veggie Wellington, and Eton mess or a trio of chocolate desserts. For the night time food we opted for the wood-fired pizzas.


We really wanted live music on our day. During the drinks reception our friends Abbey and Tom, who together are Acoustically Blonde, performed an acoustic set. Then during the evening we had a local band called Watson & The Elements perform. I think everyone appreciated dancing and listening to live music again – our wedding was one of the first allowed with no restrictions!

Thanks to

We were especially pleased with Lyndsey, our photographer – despite the many weddings she had that season (post-Covid mayhem!), she managed to deliver our wedding photos so quickly. She really captured our day perfectly and made everyone feel at ease.

Woodhill Hall is absolutely gorgeous, with so many indoor and outdoor options to host your ceremony, reception drinks, wedding breakfast and evening do. All the food and drink was lovely and having a wedding coordinator included means you can just enjoy your day in peace. We also loved being able to stay at the venue with our bridal party and close family for two nights.

Best bit

Our personalised ceremony felt pretty special; sharing our story and love with so many of our UK friends and family, under surprisingly glorious sunshine and with that wonderful backdrop of the borders. My brother read a poem during the handfasting ceremony whilst my mother tied our hands together, which brought a few tears to many eyes.


We went on honeymoon the year before, following our civil wedding in France. We went to Greece – Mykonos, Milos and Santorini. It was a real unexpected adventure, booked quite last minute when Covid threw our original plans to go to Thailand up in the air. We had the most wonderful time island hopping and benefited from there being a lot less tourists than there are during normal summers. Milos in particular was a real special surprise with some incredible backdrops.


Our advice would be to take the opportunity at the wedding breakfast to walk around each table and talk to as many guests as possible one on one. The day whizzes by so quickly!

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