Full-on summer and happy, chaotic vibes for today’s featured real wedding, as Sabrina and Laurie opt to go bold instead of going home, and pull their riot of a wedding off with a bang!
We are officially excited for this one, not least because it looks SO much fun and we wish we’d been invited. So here we are, bringing you the next best thing to an actual invite – a virtual one! Without a strict theme to hold them back, our couple have crafted a glorious and vibrant mish-mash of all of their most favourite things. A jazzy collab of laid back, village hall fun and games and two families coming together to party.
We caught up with the lovely Sabrina to find out exactly how valuable it is that your florist (and other suppliers!) really understand the assignment, how it felt to be right in the heart of it all and how a last minute beauty crisis on the morning of the wedding threatened to derail their best laid plans!
With photography by Heather Butterworth Photography
We’re both geographers and research in Cambodia, which is where Laurie proposed. We travel there often for field work and were on a weekend break by the coast. Apparently I ruined Laurie’s first attempt, at sunset, with a Skype call to my parents, but fortunately he found a second opportunity later in the evening!
In the end, our wedding was in September 2021 – it was third time lucky! Our initial date was June 2020 but we had to postpone twice because of the pandemic.
We chose Kettlewell Village Hall, right in the middle of the Dales to host everything. It’s a very unique 1920s art deco hall surrounded by gardens and nestled in the heart of Kettlewell village, with Whernside as a dramatic rear backdrop.
I’m from Bradford and Laurie is from London, so we wanted to find a location that would allow us to bring family and friends from the South to see the best of Yorkshire and make a full weekend of it. We initially envisioned the day as an intimate festival. We knew we needed a dry hire venue that would allow us to curate a bespoke food and drink offering, and enough space to house multiple bands and activities. Kettlewell Village Hall was gorgeous and ticked all the boxes. As soon as we saw it we fell in love with it.
We didn’t have a particular theme or style. The wedding was an amalgamation of the places and things we love – books and music, Berlin and Cambodia, geography, karaoke and Bowie! We wanted the styling to be vibrant and fun so we ran with a slightly chaotic theme of ‘bold and gold’!
As I mentioned, Laurie and I travel to Cambodia a lot for fieldwork and I actually went dress shopping with my mum and sister the weekend before I was due to go away for a final three-month trip, just before the original wedding date. It was my last chance to find a dress that might arrive in time for the wedding, so it was a bit fraught!
We looked around a few places without any joy, and I’d almost given up. As I was on the way to the station to get the train back to London, we passed a lovely little boutique in Saltaire, with a beautiful, delicately laced dress in the window. That was Louise Perry Bridal. When we popped in, Louise very fortunately had half an hour spare before her next appointment. I said yes to that dress as soon as I tried it on.
I wanted something that would work with the vintage styling of the hall and village, and I loved the attention to detail, from the intricate pattern of the lace work to the row of buttons down the train.
True to form, Laurie’s suit was bought somewhat last minute, on our shared stag-and-hen trip to Berlin. Some friends in town recommended Herr von Eden for a suit with a rock-and-roll edge. Luckily the team there managed to turn around the tailoring for us over a weekend! We let the wedding party choose their own outfits, with wildflower buttonholes that matched the rest of the floral arrangements.
As with the groomsmen, we let the bridesmaids choose their own outfits, so we knew it would be something they felt happy and comfortable wearing. It was especially important as my bridesmaid, my sister, was due to give birth just a couple of weeks before the wedding! She looked amazing in a teal dress, with my gorgeous three week old nephew as a page boy in a tiny purple tux.
This was fortunately our only last minute crisis! The stylist who had been booked for two years cancelled at 11pm on the evening before the wedding, and didn’t have any back up organised. Luckily, some family friends have a daughter who is a real pro with brushes and irons. My mum and sister managed to hastily scramble her to our aid at 7am on the morning of the wedding and the crisis was quickly averted!
Our friends and family packed out the village hotels and campsite for the weekend. We had our own cottage so we didn’t have far to travel to the venue. On the morning of the wedding, Laurie got a pint in the Bluebell Inn with some friends before walking across the street to the hall. I got ready at my parents’ cottage round the corner, with my sister who was my bridesmaid. It was a beautiful morning so we all strolled through the village to the ceremony with my sister holding my train. The village was so welcoming – everyone we passed called out to wish me good luck!
Heather Butterworth was amazing, her photos capture so well the raucous spirit of the day! The aerial shots of the village with the party lit up in the hall’s gardens at the centre are fantastic.
Heather and her husband James both integrated into the party seamlessly – lots of our guests commented later how friendly, fun and relaxed they were in the midst of everything. We’d actually only booked Heather for ten hours but she stayed longer to shoot the karaoke – she was determined to capture our duet! We ended up with nearly a thousand shots! We gave all the guests a print of one of Heather’s images of them in our thank you cards.
The flowers for the bouquets, buttonholes, bridal crown, and assembled in various jars and pots throughout the village hall were all arranged by Sarah at Pink Ginger. I gave Sarah a very simple brief of ‘bold, bright, messy and natural wildflowers’. She completely understood and delivered such a stunning selection of fresh and vivid blooms, most sourced seasonally and locally, and they smelled just as fragrant and wonderful as they looked!
Besides the flowers, the hall was covered from top to bottom with balloons, fairy lights, and bunting. We spent the whole day before the wedding at the venue with a team of helpers, stringing everything up ourselves! The bunting was all made by hand from vintage map fabric and prints, by a family friend we roped in and appointed ‘Creative Director’. She, my mum and my sister spent many days cutting and stitching together hundreds of metres of bunting.
The balloon ceiling is an ode to the Salon Zur Wilden Renate in Berlin. There were about 700 balloons up there in total, another team effort led by Sarah at Party Projects, who had to recruit her own mum and family friends to complete the installation. They pitched up just as we had finished our decorating at 6pm on the night before the wedding and kept going until midnight! We’re so grateful for everyone’s efforts – they completely transformed the space. I also loved browsing through examples of real weddings on the Brides Up North site to find creative inspiration!
For favours, we chose a second-hand book for each guest. The title represented something special about our relationship or their character. It was intended as a way to extend a personal welcome to each of our guests, and we hoped it would be something they could enjoy reading later too. It took weeks and weeks to first think of and then source all the individual volumes. The effort was worth it, as so many people commented how much they appreciated the gesture. I hand stamped name tags and tied them on to the books with twine, so they found their way to the right guests while doubling as DIY place cards for the wedding breakfast.
Three Little Birds Bakery was recommended to us and their tasting cupcakes were just divine! We went for three tiers, mixing their signature lemon meringue and pink velvet layers. There was so much happening on the day, that we nearly forget the cake and only got around to cutting it after 10pm! We took the leftovers as fuel for a hike and swim the next day with our friends, and ate them at the entrance to the old lead mine up in the hills over Buckden.
The food offering was part of our best-of-Yorkshire showcase. Canapés and the wedding breakfast were supplied by the awesome team at UNVEILED Network Member Good Food Story. We had a chicken, lentil, and rhubarb main as a nod to our proximity to West Yorkshire’s Rhubarb Triangle, and other elements included local goat cheese, Whitby crab cakes, and, of course, Yorkshire puddings.
The draft beers were provided by a local micro-brewery, Wharfedale Brewery – the brewer also lives in the village! We also put together a handpicked bottle bar, with a selection of our favourite beers from across Belgium and Germany. And made sure there was plenty of champagne!
In the evening, Bistro Guy served up freshly made pizzas from a converted vintage horsebox to keep everyone going.
For the festival feel, we made sure there were bands and music going on all through the day and night. Laurie’s dad is a guitarist and performed as an acoustic jazz duo through the champagne reception and later for the cocktail hours.
The team at Cocktail Rendezvous provided the bar for our evening cocktail and jazz set. Phil, the owner, built the tiki bar himself by hand – it’s a real labour of love. They really went out of their way to make the service special, with a bespoke menu, flaming cocktails, and luau garlands for all the guests. After I saw something similar in his workshop when we went for the cocktail tasting ahead of the wedding, Phil gave us our handmade order-of-the-day sign as a wedding gift! And he brought along the firepits and wood that we used to keep guests warm outside in the evening too.
Later in the evening, we brought in a six-piece David Bowie tribute, Jean Genie, who got everyone dancing. And we rounded things off for the harcore contingent with a late night set of ‘Rockaoke’ – karaoke with a live band backing.
Instead of a first dance, we had a first song. On the date of our original wedding, which we had postponed when the lockdown began, our best man Jo arranged a surprise “wedding” party for us in Hackney marshes, where Laurie and I sang a duet of Bon Jovi’s Always as the sun went down. It was an iconic moment and such a joy to reprise it at the real wedding more than a year later.
In the afternoon, to make sure we revived the party after the wedding breakfast, we organised a Wedding Olympics. There were two disciplines: table tennis and table football. We hired the tables from a local company and had guests sign up to compete in the tournament in doubles, with custom-made gold, silver and bronze medals given out to those who managed podium finishes.
All of our suppliers! I honestly felt like everyone went above and beyond, surpassing all our expectations. On the day before the wedding, it felt like there were so many moving parts that I couldn’t imagine how everything would finally come together. Everyone worked so hard to pull it off in spectacular fashion.
The speeches were definitely one of the stand-out parts of the day for me, as they were so personal, thoughtful, and sharply delivered. The contributions from Laurie, my dad, and our friends Jo and Ben were all stellar. I was touched at the effort and care and love that went into all of them. The best man’s speech was hilarious – a true stand-up comedy routine. It was so good that he was begged to perform it again (and he duly delivered!) at the afterparty the next day.
We haven’t managed to take one yet! The university teaching term started the day after the wedding weekend and after Christmas we returned to Cambodia for fieldwork. We’re hoping to squeeze something in at Easter!
Our advice would be to try to remember that you can’t do it all by yourself! Graciously accept offers of help when you get them.