Well this morning’s beautiful couple are one stylish pair. Bride Natasha wears the stunning Eden Jenny Packham gown and looks absolutely incredible in it and Groom Matthew looks equally dapper in his mixed tweed Ted Baker suit & bow tie.
Cleverly fusing their love for their urban city life and their country roots they stumbled across a beautiful rustic barn in an industrial location. And I have to say it’s the most fabulous venue and couldn’t be more perfect for them. Scrolling through the pictures you’ll see perfect portraits captured with picturesque rural backdrops and raw industrial beauty. It’s kinda of like getting two weddings for the price of one!
I haven’t even mentioned how absolutely amazing all the array of high street pastel Bridesmaid dresses are yet and the hand picked meadow bouquets are just beaut!
when Lolly told me about this wedding… A groom called Adam wearing tweed and brogues I started to wonder if this might be a wedding delivered through time from the future and that I was, just like Marty McFly in Back To The Future 2, interacting with an older version of my own self… That’ll teach me to drink Gin before noon.
Anna and Adam had a beautiful unique wedding full of quirky, hand made details. The wedding took place at Dorset House in Bury, West Sussex. Anna looked absolutely stunning in her Maggie Sottero dress with fishtail plait. This wedding was captured beautifully digitally and in film by Camilla Arnhold.
Claire and Steve wanted everyone to have an amazing, relaxed time and didn’t want anything too formal or stuffy. Their focus from the start was on food, drink and dancing.
Aside from this though they also managed to create a beautifully styled big day on a modest budget, partly by having the wedding at home…
Claire The Bride: We got married at my Mum and Dad’s place, small-holding in a village near Retford in Nottinghamshire. We chose to get married there as we wanted somewhere relaxed and non-formal (plus they have a lovely garden and lots of space!). We had the ceremony in the walled front garden and then moved up to the paddock where we had Papakata’s twinkly light tipi tents.
I did my own make-up and stocked up on lovely Chanel products for the day. I had a manicure and pedicure and my big sister’s hairdresser did all the girls’ hair on the day (and did a great job trying to make our hair look ‘messy but not!’)
Wheat Fields & Gates
I really wanted a dress that was easy to wear and simple and to be honest the dress was, for me, one of the least important parts of the day. I really didn’t enjoy the bridal boutique experience and ended up finding my Biba dress at a department store in Glasgow (where we live) for the bargain price of £200! I was really pleased with my dress and was more than happy to walk through wheat fields and jump gates for our photos. I also ended up tying the dress in a big knot to allow for easy dancing in the evening. It survived quite well considering all that.
I bought so many pairs of earrings but in the end I just wore a gold-leafed bangle from Anthropologie. My shoes were my something old – comfy gold, wedges. I also had a lovely Biba marabou and feather cape but I never actually put it on as it was too hot dancing the night away in the tipis!
Men & Maids
We had two beautiful bridesmaids and two handsome best men. My sister wore a simple champagne dress from Coast and my other bridesmaid Kay wore a lovely dress from Warehouse, the only directions were ‘nude-kind-of-colour’ and they both looked amazing! Steve bought his suit from Ted Baker and the best men bought their suits two days before from Hugo Boss. (They came from Oz via Europe suitless.)
English Country Garden
We didn’t really plan to have a theme but in the end we went for a lot of natural colours: nudes, wood, kraft brown and sage green. In the end it turned out to be kind of rustic/english country garden style.
Steve made lots of home-made signs including a wooden sign-post with all the places people had travelled from to come to the wedding – Adelaide, San Francisco, Istanbul, the Caymen Islands. We also decorated the Whisky Barn with a gallery of framed family wedding photos. The tipis didn’t really need much decorating as they were lovely with lots of twinkly lights, wooden pools and a disco ball. We didn’t do favours as such, instead we had baskets of pashminas and flip flops and a tuck box of sweeties, crayons and games for the children. We also had jars of marshmallows to toast, cookies and sparklers.
Forget Me Not
I loved our flowers and I was very sad that I couldn’t take them all with me on the honeymoon! Sasha from Forget Me Not did a fantastic job and chose the perfect flowers, apricot and nude David Austin roses with mint, veronica, jasmine and hydrangea. We had our ceremony outside under a beautiful arch of roses and on the tables we had collections of mis-matched jam jars full of flowers placed on wooden rounds that my dad had chopped up. The table place names were tied onto ivory serviettes with a spring of lavender picked from the garden.
Our ceremony was written by Kate Gee a humanist wedding celebrant. We met with Kate a few times so that she got to know us. We picked two readings ‘The One’ and The Apache Wedding Blessing’; one was read by Steve’s sisters and another by a good friend of ours. The ceremony felt very relaxed but I think we fidgeted throughout! We chose Jose Gonzales’ ‘Heartbeats’ to walk down the aisle to which was performed by the amazing Daisy Wignall and on the way back down Daisy performed ‘Cupid’ as the congregation threw confetti (dried flowers picked and dried by my mum throughout the year).
Pimms & Champagne
Daisy played a lovely acoustic set in the front garden whilst guests drank Pimms and champagne and snacked on canapés. During dinner we had a rat pack-esque playlist and we later danced the night away to the fabulous band Soul Summit – who were fantastic! They played two sets of soul music including all the classics. We even had a surprise impromptu live version of ‘Love Shack’ sang by one of Steve’s mates and to finish off the night we had a DJ who kept us dancing till 1pm (when we had to pull the plug for the sake of the neighbours). Although we weren’t planning on having a first dance, somehow on the day Steve decided we had to, so we danced to Ray Lamontage’s ‘ You are the Best Thing’.
We had fantastic caterers (we were really lucky all our suppliers were fab!) Ann Wright and her team served up delicious canapés including smoked salmon bilinis, minted lamb skewers and caramelised onion and goats cheese tarts. We didn’t want the traditional three course meal so following an abundance of canapés we then went for a BBQ type main meal and had boards full of steak, chicken, salmon, salads and new potatoes. We decided to bypass dessert and instead went for a self-serve table of cakes including a carrot cake with orange buttercream, a coconut sponge with lime curd and Malibu buttercream, a lemon drizzle cake with blueberry conserve, chocolate cake, Tiramisu cake and chocolate cupcakes. Our main wedding cake was a naked cake – a victoria sponge with strawberry jam and vanilla buttercream. The yummy cakes were baked by a lovely local lady Jayne at Cakes by Occasion.
Steve designed our invitations which included mini-maps and RSVP postcards. I tied them all together with twine and floral gift tags with the names of guests written on them. Steve also sorted out all the place names and all the card signs we used. We wanted things simple so we just used brown kraft card.
Food, Drink & Dancing
Advice: make sure you agree and decide on your priorities and then put your efforts into making those bits great! We wanted everyone to have an amazing, relaxed time and didn’t want anything too formal or stuffy. Our focus from the start was on food, drink and dancing! If you decide to have your wedding at home think about all the things that this involves. We didn’t really and then were faced with the realisation that we had to do everything! Sort out toilets, a generator, all the drinks, refrigerator trailers … it can be quite stressful as there’s nobody there to sort it out.
As soon as Lee turned around (and burst into tears), I threw myself into his arms and planted a big kiss on his lips. After being told off by the Registrar ‘you haven’t got to that bit yet!’ we held eachothers hands and it was just me and him. This was our moment.
We chose three readings to add to the ceremony and three gorgeous girls to read them. Lee’s cousin Tara stole the show as the three of us hugged our way through her tearful reading from Les Miserables, followed by her sister Daisy & our mate Jess who both did us equally proud reading lyrics from What Is Life by George Harrison & an extract from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.
As soon as it was over I wanted to rewind and live it all again. It was like I was floating in a bubble and couldn’t quite snap out of it to take everything in. For someone who initially questioned getting a wedding video, I am now eternally grateful to Papertwin for being there and capturing every moment of that ceremony (even the bit where I almost fell flat on my face as Lee and I dashed excitedly up the aisle). Those memories are priceless and we’ll get to live them over and over again. They also created a short trailer for us which has me in tears every time I see it, it’s such a beautiful account of our day.
Thank You For Being A Friend
Still in our bubble, we snatched some time away from the party for our couple shots with Claire Penn, she surprised us with 12” George Harrison and Lady Gaga records and we dropped into Probe Records next door to the venue for some photos. It was a lot of fun entertaining the bewildered customers as we made out behind the vinyl.
What more can I say about Claire that I haven’t already – the sunshine and love just beam out of our faces in her photographs, and as we knew she would from the moment we met her, she has told mine and Lee’s love story better than anyone else we could imagine. I am so glad we met her, and so proud to now call her a friend. We returned to the party to find the dancing had already started as our buskers Rag Tag Misfits were bringing the house down.
Usually found playing to shoppers in Liverpool One, Helly and Andy rocked up and surprised our guests. We’d provided a load of percussion instruments in their guitar case so our friends and family could join the fun, they went down a storm.
Our table decorations ended up being a perfect jumble of old books, and flowers in crystal and pewter vases that I’ve collected from charity shops and car boots over the last 18-months, along with a mini-library table plan with it’s very own set of vintage golf clubs, book-page hearts and paper flowers scattered around the room. Everything that we loved, all thrown together in a perfect mess of us!
For favours, we had badges made with favourite movie quotes, song lyrics or little phrases that mean something to us. I have to confess, after spending many wrist-breaking hours with a Badge-It machine, I decided enough was enough and bought them from Awesome Merchandise with a little help again from Claire.
Sometimes there’s such a thing as too much DIY. Our mini-vinyl CD’s (a joint DIY effort between Thom who designed my stationery, me and Ian from Strange Case Collective) also sat at each place setting and provided the best soundtrack for dinner – putting the theme from The Golden Girls up against The Doobie Brothers was a musical masterstroke! Speeches were entertaining and emotional, as Lee, his best man Paul and my bezzies Liz and Phil all said a few words – with Margaret Cho, Kelly Rowland and HM The Queen all playing their part!
For place cards, I took inspiration from Rock My Wedding’s ‘Jar of Hearts’. Having already dished out the badges, we didnt include that part, but asked each guest to write their words of wisdom to be displayed on a big canvas and kept forever… there were some very touching and funny messages.
The cake was entrusted to my good friend and RMW regular, Sarah otherwise known as One Jolly Girl. Her ‘Nudist’ cake was absolutely delicious and looked amazing – a tower of decadent spongey, creamy, fruity joy just waiting to be in and around my mouth, topped off by little wooden versions of me and Lee, from Goose Grease, painted by Sophie at Strange Case Collective.
As we got up to cut the cake, my mate grabbed me and showed me her phone. Remember Claire I told you about? She had JUST given birth to the most beautiful baby girl. The whole wedding raised a glass to little Megan, it was a special moment.
A massive party with beautiful people
A couple of months before the big day, you might remember that Lee and I had a bit of a reality check about the limited guest list. There are so many people that we love, and those people love to party – so we changed the evening venue. It was a GREAT decision.
We called another favour in and a friend turned up with a vintage double decker to transport our guests up the road. We arrived at Parr Street Studios and once again, the girls from Strange Case Collective took my breath away – 250 metres of paper hearts were strung from the ceiling, turning the former recording studio into a cathedral of pretty!
The Rag Tag Misfits were playing Ho Hey, the girls thrust a pramaretto (yep – still drinking them!) into my hand, ‘Pumping Iron’ was playing on the big screen (we couldn’t resist… and it was followed through the evening by ‘Withnail & I’ and ‘In Bed WIth Madonna’) and I had another one of those ‘pinch yourself’ moments. This is EXACTLY what we had in mind!
For our first dance, we’d tried to decide on various love songs or slowies from the huge list of music we’d already chosen, but nothing seemed right. Our second song was decided before we even got engaged, ‘Yes’ by McAlmont & Butler – but whatever way you look at it, it is not an appropriate first dance.
It was about a week before the wedding when we were in the car and one of our favourite songs came on, ‘There She Goes’ by The La’s. We both looked at eachother and knew that was it. It was great to have an upbeat record to get the party started, the dancing didn’t stop until the early hours. I’ve never known a wedding DJ as brilliant as Paul from Wedding Jam, we knew he’d be great but he was the unexpected hit of the whole day.
Quality music from start to finish, guests didn’t stop telling us how brilliant the music was all night and they’re still talking about it now. He was a bit of a heart-throb too. As the night ended and we should have been drifting off to our hotel suite up the road, Lee and I ended up doing what we always do – carried on drinking!
It was very late but a few bars were still open and we ended up in a bar called La’Go. Just us, finally being able to sit together, relax and laugh about what a crazy day we’d had… although of course we drew a little bit of attention.
Let Your Hair Down
Many couples talk about finding time to spend together on your own, and its true – it was good to be alone finally, it feels like Lee and I barely saw eachother all night. But more than that, if I could give any advice, I would urge every Bride and Groom to let go of the stress, chill out and make their wedding day a real celebration of their love and happiness.
Lots of us obsess when we’re planning a wedding about the details and ensuring that we look perfect, and that’s fine. I loved every minute of that, but the most important thing I can share, is that once the day comes, put all of that to one side and enjoy yourself. Spend a little bit of money on having someone you can trust to decorate the venue and to be there on the day running the show like clockwork, so you can let go and just enjoy whatever happens.
I genuinely don’t know what I would have done without Colette from All Wrapped Up Events – what a woman! It left us to focus on with the people we love most in the world around us, and the rest just came naturally. Our friends and family are all such fun, wonderful people it was the best day ever to just see them all having a great time and making new friends.
It was the happiest, wildest, most emotional day of our lives and we shared it with the best people imaginable. Boss. Nothing else mattered.
Peace & Love
And here is that film lovingly created by Papertwin.
It’s really hard to even describe what happened next without going back to the start. When we met Danny & Sophie (aka Papertwin & Strange Case), it was clear that we were going to become great friends and we did, very quickly. What we didn’t know was that even back then, Danny was hatching a plan. As the first wedding Papertwin had filmed, he wanted to do something special, and he managed to keep that plan a secret from Lee and I for the entire time.
Danny, along with Sophie and Claire contacted my Male of Honour Phil and organised the most beautiful and amazing surprise that has ever been staged. By anyone. Ever.
Earlier this month, we’d arranged to meet the couple for Sunday breakfast and the handover of our wedding video. We went along to our favourite little cafe to find them waiting outside, they hailed a cab – apparently breakfast wasn’t happening. A few minutes later, after noticing a suspicious looking camera we came to a stop outside Woolton Picture House, a beautiful old cinema in the Liverpool suburbs, on the steps outside were our families who had all come to join us for the ‘secret premiere’. We were gobsmacked.
Strange Case Collective had revived our beautiful paper flowers and heart garlands from the wedding day, along with some AMAZING movie posters. We stepped through the doors taking our retro yellow tickets (yep, tickets!) to find bucks fizz and sweets for everyone along with a stunning three tier cake from the legendary Laura’s Little Bakery.
It didn’t stop there, two seats were set up at the front for Lee and I with huge peace & love signs, popcorn and prosecco. The guests filed in a few rows behind, ready for the show to start – and the show, boy do these guys know how to make a wedding film. It blew us away. The whole experience was like re-living our wedding again, every emotion and feeling came rushing back as we watched it on the big screen with our families with us enjoying every moment. It was truly magical. It is impossible to express what this day means to us, and just how overwhelmed we are by the time, love and effort put in by our beautiful friends to do something so special. We can never thank them enough.
Of course no day with Papertwin & Claire Penn would be complete without capturing it on camera. They made most incredible heart warming, emotional film (only mildly spoilt by my sobbing minceface) documenting what happened. This is that day, in their words…
Well, I hope you all enjoyed that peeps, what a beautiful account filled with little tear jerky moments (yes even for a boy!)
And what an ending… No words for that.
It makes me a proud wedding blogger to see our little Karen & Lee all grown up and married and making their own way in the world… With one hell of a lot of love and support from their family and friends to help them on their way.
Adam here… Introducing the very first wedding from our last bunch of lovely real bride ladies, and first up is Karen who married her man Lee on June 1st.
If you are new RMW reader unfamiliar with Karens story then read no further!!! Firstly read Karens whole planning story right here. It’s a corker and a story this good should not be started at the final chapter! Talking of which… I will now pass the blog over to Karen for the very last time…
Karen: Hello, it’s been a while! When I last left you all, I was days away from the most surreal and wonderful day of my life. The day before however, was a complete mess of activity, emotion and co-ordinating as I suddenly realised that the to-do list was more than I could handle. The table plan, flowers, tan, nails and box packing all had to be done – so the arrival of my friends Liz and Neenah was an absolute godsend.
Those girls calmed me down and ran the wedding sweatshop with military precision before the arrival of the wonderful Colette from allwrappedupevents and Sophie from strangecasecollective who whisked it all away and worked their magic on the venues. The morning of the wedding started at 5am in maybe the most unexpected way… A text from one of my best friends – she was in labour!
Thoughts of the wedding melted away briefly and my thoughts were with Claire & her husband, bringing a new little life into the world, they had a huge day ahead and I was so excited for them both. (my second thought of course was to text Colette to rearrange the table plan). The sun was shining, I was surprisingly calm and we had a wedding AND a baby on the way. Best day ever already!
Still in our PJ’s, we descended on my parent’s house. My Dad took one look at us bouncing in and retreated to Morrisons for more champagne, it was all systems go.
In Good Hands
There’s only one woman on earth I trust to take a pair of scissors to my fringe – my hairdresser of over ten years, Clare. So it was only natural that she did my hair for the big day. I didn’t want it too formal or structured, more ‘Bardot does Bridal’. I really don’t suit my hair up, so a more tarted up version of my usual party hair suited me down to the ground.
In the early days of searching for a veil, I fell in love with Sara Gabriel from across the pond – designer of a stunning range of couture veils. She couldn’t have been more helpful and was more than happy to ship the super-cute Emma half circle veil over to the UK. I paired it up with a very simple pearl and crystal headband from Glitzy Secrets
Warning: massive list of amazing make up products… I’m incredibly lucky that my wonderful friend Neenah is an Account Manager for Estee Lauder, and offered to do my make up for the wedding. I knew I could relax and let her work her magic, to have me looking my best. A common debate between my online Bride friends (hi girls!) is what foundation to use, as a lot of light reflecting foundations look great in the day, but then awful when every drunken pal is pointing their iPhone at you on the dancefloor. The answer is HD! Neenah created a blend for me of Smashbox HD and Make Up Forever HD Foundations which meant it stayed put and looked perfect on camera. The ever faithful MAC Studio Fix (concealer and powder) finished off my base along with another magical combo of Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in bronze, Estee Lauder Soft Shimmer bronzer and MAC Mineralize blush in Love Joy. For my eyes she gave me a solid and lasting liner with Estee Lauder Doublewear liquid liner in black and Doublewear pencil liner in Onyx, MAC Opulash Optimum Black mascara with my favourite Chanel eyeshadow-duo in Taupe – Delicat. The whole look was topped off with Estee’s pure colour Crystal Baby lipstick.
My unfailing cosmetic brand loyalty didn’t stop there as I piled on my favourite scent Estee Lauder Sensuous and Chanel nail colour in May.
My dress must have been one of the biggest dramas of the entire planning process. The minute I wore my dress, based on a forgotten Christian Dior design from the 1950’s, I fell in love.
Then I wobbled. badly. You might remember that one. Thank God I got over it because I felt so special in my dress on the big day – As soon as I put it on I felt like a princess and loved spending the next 12 hours swishing about with my petticoats. It was perfect for me, pulling me in to show off my waist then flowing out to hide my little beer belly under all the skirts, while having some lovely detail on the top to give the illusion of me having boobs! It even had pockets to hide my hankie and lippy in. Amazing.
I knew I wanted killer shoes, so I went for a gorgeous pair of sky high strappy Miu Miu heels. My jewellery was all a lovely surprise from Lee on the morning of the wedding – some beautiful, understated sparkle! Knickers from Agent Provocateur naturally, and I managed to end up with two garters from the Mums. I have to say, Lee’s Mum’s 40 year old garter – complete with giant plastic cupid is one of the most fantastic things I’ve ever seen.
The Handsome Groom
Lee has always been a bit of a sharp dresser, so I had no doubt he’d be looking amazing on the day. I was right, he looked dead handsome! I think he put as much effort into his outfit as I did with mine. It was a total secret until we saw eachother at the ceremony. First stop was Savile Row. He had a bespoke, three-piece tweed suit made by Gieves & Hawkes with a very pale yellow dress shirt and yellow patterned tie, also from Gieves & Hawkes. He paired the suit perfectly with a pair of beautiful two-tone brown leather shoes from Loake Shoemakers. His yellow socks and cufflinks, were also Gieves & Hawkes.
Maids & Males
I knew I didn’t want typical bridesmaid dresses for the girls but it was tough finding the right look as I wanted them all to look stunning. I wanted a dress they’d all love and wear again. We had a few failed attempts at online decision-making before hitting the high street for a day of shopping. We found the perfect dress in Warehouse. Cute and flattering with a real 60’s vibe – exactly what we’d been looking for. The dresses were ivory, so for a little pop of colour, their feet became my ‘something blue’. I wanted sexy bridesmaids and thats what I got… legs legs legs! My male of honour Phil wore a sharp three-piece navy Daniel Hechter suit & Doc Marten shoes while my 20-month old nephew Oliver matched Lee in a gorgeous tweed set with chinos and baby brogues. Both boys wore matching bow ties from Mrs Bow Tie.
One of the most magical moments of the day for me was the arrival of the flowers. After spending months planning every detail of the day, the flowers were out of my hands and the final look was a total surprise. I’d worked with Dale and trusted him completely to create something special and unique – I loved the anticipation of not seeing his creation until the big day.
My flower choices were very personal to me and I wasn’t sure how they would look together. Of course, they were sublime. Built around a base of a huge white hydrangea, there were peonies, roses, ranunculus, daisies, lisianthus, astilbe and of course a little peep of willow. They were stunning and smelled like heaven.
Before I knew it we were all suited, booted and the beautiful cars chosen by Lee (a 1920s Bramwith and Daimler Landaulette) courtesy of classicweddingcars.org were waiting outside.
We were ready to go.
I loved driving through town with my Dad, waving and smiling at everyone the whole way, I’m never one to shy away from attention and I felt like royalty. We arrived at The Athenaeum expecting to be greeted by the bridal party who’d left 15 minutes before we did… The first comedy moment of the day. They weren’t there! After taking a wrong turn and getting stuck in the one-way system, they came reversing up the road – cheering and waving – making a spectacular entrance about ten minutes later. It was hilarious and left enough time for me and my Dad to enjoy one last glass of champagne before we headed inside.
Peace & Love
Our loose ‘books and music’ theme came naturally with the venues we’d chosen, but more than anything, we wanted our day to have a laid back, fun, retro vibe. We’re both strongly influenced by our parents in life, so we drew from their wedding days – working little details into our own day such as the colour scheme and flowers – while also reflecting our own personalities. The girls from Strange Case Collective had really gone to town creating our Chanel-inspired staircase and it looked fantastic, better than I could have ever imagined. I’d worked hard to plan the decorative touches, but I could never have achieved what they did. It was the cherry on the cake and the amount of work and love they’d put into our wedding day blew my mind.
We’d also left out a few little gestures for our guests, like a little chest filled with vintage hankies at the entrance to the library, to mop up any emotional tears (there were many) and also a little beauty box in the ladies toilets for touch ups and repairs – this is one gesture that doesn’t cost the earth but will mean the world to your girls when they need an emergency safety pin or spritz of hairspray. I totally recommend it.
Finally, I could hear the opening notes of Something by George Harrison. I gave my Dad’s arm a squeeze and walked into a dream…
I love quirky wedding venues and this one is a goodie. Today’s very pretty affair comes from the Yorkshire Sculpture Park – the open, airy spaces of the venue and the lush, green surrounding countryside make the perfect backdrop for Lou and Al’s wedding. Plus the cool sculptures and art work were instant entertainment for the guests.
Lou is Bride who definitely created the wedding she and Al wanted – this wedding isn’t full of fussy details, there’s no traditional gown, no favours and the cake is a giant Krispy Kreme tower!
Lou The Bride: Hello! We are Lou and Al. I (Lou) am from North Wales originally and Al is a Sheffield boy born and bred. We now live in Cheshire. We got married on the 30th June 2012 at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in West Yorkshire. As well as being a favourite place of ours to visit, it is an amazing space and is a totally unique place to get married.
Short Was The Way To Go
My dress was by Candy Anthony, I knew I always wanted a short dress and had seen a picture of a similar one online which lead us to the photographers we chose! I still thought I should check out other styles so one of my bridesmaids came dress shopping with me – we soon concluded that I looked like a child dressing up with some of the more sophisticated styles and short was the was way to go.
A Cracking Pair Of Shoes
I wore a vintage inspired Jo Barnes head band. I found hair accessories difficult as wanted something vintage that was faded and sparkly but couldn’t find anything quite right – until I found Jo. My shoes were Jimmy Choo’s Luna in metallic gold and silver. The leather is so soft it meant I could dance all night with no issues. The best thing about a short dress is you can justify indulging in a cracking pair of shoes.
Loose Curls And Sixties Lashes
Hair and make-up was done by the lovely Charlotte Dobson, we went for loose curls and sixties lashes.
Muted Pinks And Greens
The flowers were done by Sheffield based Swallows and Damsons. They were muted pinks and greens of freesias, peonies, roses and eucalyptus. For the table and ceremony room decorations I collected cut glass bud vases from charity shops.
The groomsmen wore their own suits – no colour scheme and no theme. Bridesmaid’s outfits were muted pink lace dresses from Warehouse – we added a grey net skirt underneath for extra pooooof and the shoes were from Zara.
The grooms outfit was a black bespoke suit from Richard Smith, Deansgate Manchester. Shoes were Paul Smith and had purple heels.
Lovely To Deal With
We came across Christian and Erica searching online and loved their shots. When we met them we loved their approach (it actually felt like they were guests) they captured everything we had asked for and were generally lovely to deal with.
Saving It For Later
Al has a serious well documented donut addiction so it was a really easy decision for our cake. We opted for a Krispy Kreme donut tower decorated with fresh strawberries and icing sugar… which was a total hit. I had numerous texts off our friends and family the next day saying that they had found squashed Krispy Kremes in their handbags.
We had a brilliant band called The Big Beat who played indie tunes all night long. Our highlight of the evening was Fleetwood Macs ‘The Chain’ – in honour of Al and Uncle Nicks endless Grand Prix marathon sessions (always accompanied by a box of 12 Krispy Kremes.)
Music was important part of our day…. But we dreaded the first dance. I’m no shrinking violet but I literally woke up in cold sweats about it. We decided to play the Beatles ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ but encouraged everyone get up and dance with us. The music we chose for the ceremony was much more special to us and included tunes from Athlete, Ray Lamontagne, the Jam and Rifles. We walked out of the ceremony to the Stone Roses ‘She Bangs The Drum.’
You Look Amazing
We didn’t have any favours, but we did hand out white pencils intended to sign our wedding postcards which were engraved in gold with ‘you look amazing.’
The best thing about using the Yorkshire Sculpture Park for a venue is that it has paintings and sculptures everywhere you look. From the restaurant where we had the wedding breakfast there were also sheep dotted views that stretch out over the West Yorkshire countryside for as far as you can see. We also had a full end-to-end rainbow that came out during the wedding breakfast!
The ceremony was a blank canvas so we decorated this with loads of white paper lanterns that hung from the ceiling, and used tuille and vintage lace for table coverings and door covers.
Make It Personal
Take the time to think about readings that are personal to you as they will be much more memorable. We had two readings, one was an adaptation of the Lovely Dinosaur by Edward Monkton and the other was a piece from a Rob Ryan Painting that we had bought from YSP when we were first together.
If there’s anything you don’t want to do that breaks from tradition, don’t do it – it’s your day! Use trusted suppliers – they make it easy for you to relax and enjoy the day. And finally, do a food and wine tasting so you can enjoy the food in advance! I didn’t eat one thing on the day as I was so excited!
Amy and Ric are Rock My Wedding readers and they told me that the RMW pages were a massive source of inspiration during their planning process. So now, in the style of that Kevin Spacey film from a few years back, Amy is here to Pay It Forward.
Amy The Bride: Our ceremony was at the Priory Church of St. Mary and St. Cuthbert, Bolton Abbey, in the southern Yorkshire Dales – a really special place for us. The reception was down the road at Newton Grange in Gargrave; a working farm with holiday cottages, which allowed friends and family to stay on site. Catherine and Rachael from Newton Grange were fantastic and basically allowed us free-reign for the whole weekend to create exactly the atmosphere we wanted.
The dress was Eleonor by Cymbeline, bought from Brides of York. Being a google-search-addict I had first seen it on-line and had a pretty good idea there and then that it was ‘the one’. I knew I wanted something relatively understated and bling-free, and have a real weakness for anything involving lace and a cap sleeve! I think it suited the laid-back feel of the day perfectly, and even survived a small gravy-related incident relatively well!
A Word From The Wise
With the words of Coco Chanel “Always remove one accessory before leaving the house!” (courtesy of my very good friend and bridesmaid, Louise) ringing in my ears, I did not want to over-accessorize, instead letting the chantilly lace of my dress speak for itself. I just went for some fresh chamomile in my hair, a vintage watch belonging to my Grandama and simple pearl drop earrings and was good to go.
After dreaming of a pair of Louboutins / Choos etc my whole life, I am somewhat loathe to admit I veered off course spectacularly with a bargain pair of comfy Carvela nude peep-toes from TK Maxx! My reasoning being
No-one will really see them.
We’re celebrating on a farm.
My back-up ‘in-case-of-a-mud-slide’ shoes were far more glam neon coral wellies, put to good use during Mr. Barbers’ off-the-beaten-track photo shoot.
Pom Pom Flowers
Tanya from West Row Hair in Ilkley worked her magic on mine and my beautiful bridesmaids’ hair. Again, I didn’t want anything too finished (or flammable!). I did my own make-up, but stock piled a tool-kit comprising Laura Mercier, NARS and By Terry beautification products, which I now get to keep – bonus!
Throughout the planning stages, I found I developed an unhealthy obsession with ‘yellow pom-pom flowers’ aka Craspedia, and knew I wanted them to feature heavily. I cannot recommend the team at Leafy Couture flowers, Otley, highly enough. After meeting them, and me banging on for an hour about the ‘yellow pom-poms’, they were able to realise my vision amazingly, coming up with some seriously beautiful bouquets and button-holes in a multitude of colours.
For the rest of the table decorations I turned to the ever-reliable e-Bay to form a collection of old kitsch tins and blue glass vessels in which to arrange matching flowers, also courtesy of the Leafy girls flowers. The day before the wedding my bridesmaids and I nervously set about some amateur floristry, but definitely achieved the unstructured look we were hoping for (aided by plenty of home-brewed Pear Cider!)
True Blue Bargain
The bridesmaids dresses were an absolute steal – midnight blue maxi-dresses from Warehouse. Again, my love of the cap-sleeve came through, and the overall shape echoed that of my dress (a happy accident!) I think they looked totally stunning.
The men-folk wore their own suits, with matching midnight blue ties with pale blue paisley print to coordinate the dapper bunch.
I think the contrast of the bright bouqets and buttonholes worked really well against the blue base.
A Bloke Bespoke
Ric scrubbed-up very well indeed (though I am horribly biased!) He wore a suit from Moss Bespoke – a sister company of Moss Bros started by former Savile Row tailors, creating tailor made suits at a fraction of the price. His rather gorgeous shoes he viewed as a massive splurge (considering he was previously the owner of a grand total of 3 pairs, 2 being trainers) from Grenson.
Fetch Me A Barber
The day was captured by the phenomenally talented Chris Barber, and his equally able side-kick for the day, Lee Allen. As soon as I happened upon his website, courtesy of RMW, I knew he was the one for us, and he did not disappoint! From our first meeting he put even the photo-phobic Ric at ease in front of the lens and we really enjoyed the time we spent with the pair on the wedding day itself.
The cake was created courtesy of Ric’s Aunt, and really did exceed all my expectations. The decoration was lace-inspired and very understated. In addition we had a mandatory cheese cake, to serve as fuel for the evening-do-dancing.
A New Romantic
Our first dance was to The Smiths ‘There is a light’. We wanted something that meant something to us, whilst avoiding being too cheesy. I think the lyrics are very poignant and fitting and Ric is a massive Smiths fan, so it was the perfect choice.
We bought customised badges from Awesome Merchandise based in Leeds, with our names and the wedding date on them. In the hope all our guests would don them for the night – they didn’t disappoint!
Understated & Relaxed
From the outset Ric and I knew we didn’t want to comply with a strict ‘package’ that many venues offer, and instead opted to do / plan as much as we could ourselves. The result was a day that really did reflect us; understated, relaxed and all about family and friends. I think the setting really stole the show; being surrounded by the stunning Yorkshire Dales was just perfect.
The only advice we would offer future brides and grooms is to stick to your guns and don’t be persuaded by anyone that you ‘need’ chair covers / white doves / a horsedrawn carriage (just examples!) if you don’t want them. Also, in the frantic few weeks leading up to the day itself, try and take some time out together to remember what it’s all about; that should make any niggling worries about table plans / colour schemes etc. pale into insignificance.
I am really loving those colour pop tins with the rustic florals. I am also hugely fond of the seating arrangements – I think long trestle style tables are a really good way to get all your guests mingling and they look fab too.
Finally, amazing car… Severe Triumph envy over here right now and those badges… Too cool for school.
Rachel and Niall married in May 2012 at St Edmunds Church, Southampton. The reception was held at Rotherwick Village Hall.
Anyone having dress wobbles will be reassured by Rachels opening paragraphs, with a combination of self belief and a boutique sourced on the Love Lust List that went above and beyond – Rachel got the dress she wanted and the fit that she deserved.
In the beginning I was adamant I would have a short dress but was open to suggestion and trying most things on although I did have quite a closed idea of what I didn’t think would suit my shape. I loved lacey fitted numbers but just had in my head that you needed to be tall and skinny to pull this off until one lovely shop assistant forced me into such a dress. This wasn’t the one but certainly opened my mind to trying more things. My shopping assistants (bridesmaids and trusted advisor!) all preferred the longer dresses and when I tried on Essence everybody said yes – that was that.
I must confess that I didn’t purchase the dress in the shop where I found it because after some internet searching I found it significantly reduced simply because the shop had decided not to stock the designer any longer and therefore didn’t want to keep the dresses on. A bit cheeky but we had to watch the purse strings and I would encourage people to look around as I did find significant variation in pricing.
It would be nice to say ‘and that was the dress done’ but other people may find it reassuring to hear that I then spent the next six months obsessing that I had made the wrong decision. I convinced myself I didn’t even like the dress and spent every day looking at something more pretty on these very pages. A short dress was also very much on my mind. What made matters worse was that I lost a bit of weight and the dress needed taking in quite a lot – I never actually tried on a version of the dress that fitted me and so my vision of what it should look like was based on the model – all pinned and perfect! When it came to the alterations it seemed the seamstress didn’t quite share my opinion of what the shape of the dress was. From the waist up and the length she got right – but from my hips I felt it just hung like a sack and should have been more fitted – she just insisted I shouldn’t base things on the airbrushed model. I cried. I didn’t like it. I was sure it wasn’t meant to look this way – my mum could literally grab 5 inches of material on the small of my back. They said I looked amazing. I thought I was going mad.
So I found my way to the RMW pages browsing the Love Lust List. I decided I needed a second opinion and it was the best decision I made. Sam from Mamfii Bridal saw me that week – the week before my wedding – to do a fitting – amazing generosity given my dress wasn’t bought here. The boutique is beautiful, Sam was amazing, reassured me that I wasn’t going mad, I was completely right and preceded to pin the dress to the shape it was meant to be – requiring inches of material to be chopped. It instantly looked better. The alterations were then turned round in a small number of days and cost less than the bad ones! I cannot stress the importance of good alterations and sticking to your guns. I would also urge anyone to go to Mamfii to find their dress – it is sublime and Sam is a hero.
I also found a short cream lacey number that I changed into once the party really got going 😉
My friend Katie is amazing with all things craft. Not only did she make our invitations and table plan but she hand crafted my hair slides. Having seen something similar for hundreds of pounds she created a better version for a fraction of the price.
I decided to keep my jewllery simple and sentimental. I wore a necklace that I wear everyday which was the first piece of jewellery Niall bought for me. I wore the bracelet that my parents bought me for my 18th. A veil wasn’t for me though I did come close. I just felt there was so much detail on the dress that it was almost hiding it so I let the dress do the talking.
Shoes oh I love shoes. I spent three months in New York just before the wedding and shoes were my Manhattan mission. I settled on a pair of skyscraping Badgley Mischka’s that were just lush. They were so comfortable and I lasted until 4am in them!
Looking Good All Day
I spent a small fortune on Bobbi Brown products and then had a friend apply all of our make-up on the morning. My hair was also done by a friend – I decided I wanted it up pretty early on as I wasn’t convinced it could be down and look good all day.
We are very lucky that my auntie is a florist and prepared the bouquets and buttonholes for us. She also ordered all of the flowers for the venue – we were after a ‘just been to the garden and picked a bunch’ look. We had lots of gyp, lizzyanthums and wax flowers – again inspired by these pages.
The lady who does the church flowers is also a good friend and prepared flowers with a similar theme for the church as a wedding present.
Hit the Highstreet
We bought the bridesmaids dresses and groomsmen’s suits. None of us really liked the traditional bridesmaid look, having a bit of an aversion to shiny material, and we wanted to keep things fairly relaxed to fit with the general theme. So in the end we went high street and found some lovely dresses in Warehouse. The boys all wore yummy three piece suits from Ben Sherman at Debenhams.
He Smelt Good
Niall wore a three piece Ben Sherman suit and looked awesome. I don’t remember too much about walking up the aisle but I’m told I marched pretty quickly! I remember being excited to get to Niall and give him a cheeky kiss and squeeze his hand. Not only did he look amazing but he smelt so good – fragrance is so important!
We loved Andy’s portfolio and when we met him we got on so well. He was relaxed and seemed to understand what we were after. I was very fussy about what photo’s I liked so there weren’t too many choices of photographer but being relatively new to the industry at that point Andy was also a bit cheaper than some other people we considered which helped!
My friend Jen makes awesome cakes so there was only ever one choice. Neither of us like wedding cake so that wasn’t an option. We went for a three tier Victoria Sponge with fresh berries – it was immense! We also had a cake table filled up by my lovely family and friends – with everything from cupcakes and chocolate cake to apple pie and scones. People helped themselves to cake after lunch in place of us serving a dessert.
A Filled Floor
Niall DJ’s in his spare time, as do quite a few of his friends so music was really important to him and a standard wedding DJ was never going to do the trick. We set up the PA system – complete with smoke machine(!) and once the party got going the boys all took it turns to play some tunes – the dance floor was literally filled all night.
Niall also spent a lot of time beforehand making playlists of softer music which we played over lunch. Niall did a fantastic job with the church music too and one of our lasting memories will be walking out of the church having just got married to Elbow’s One Day Like This.
Short and Sweet
Our first dance was to The Maccabees – Toothpaste Kisses. Amazing song by a band close to our hearts and an added bonus of being extra short!
It may now be obvious but music is close to our hearts so our table names were our favourite bands and our favours were mix cd’s of our favourite songs. I was really pleased that almost everybody took the cd home and I have had numerous messages since the wedding to say people are playing it in their car and loving reliving the day.
The hall itself was very pretty and did not have much scope, or really need anything, to hang from the walls or ceilings etc. There were a lot of things we needed to have in the room so we made them into decorations – pretty areas which caught the eye. We had the cake table, the table plan and gift table, a table with photos of our parents and grandparents getting married, the bar, the cocktails etc and flowers everywhere!
On the tables we had jam jars tied with lace and twine with meadow flowers, and the table names were our favourite bands – with their album cover on top of an empty wine bottle. We also had lots of jugs and vases of flowers scattered around the hall and little lanterns that sparkled when it got dark.
I was quite conscious that the hall didn’t have any soft seating, as you would normally get in a hotel, as I thought the dining chairs might be a bit much for such a long time and the older guests. We managed to get hold of some sofas and armchairs from freecycle the day before and they worked perfectly.
Odd as it is to describe it as decoration one of my favourites things was the ladies toilets! Having settled on a village hall I expected this to be one of the things that we would have to compromise on but they were great – really big and spacious with lots of mirrors! I thought it was really important to make them even nicer so we had flowers, nice hand washes and hand creams and wicker baskets full of anything anyone could have needed – pain killers, plasters, hair grips, deodorant, mints, flip flops! You name it we had it – it was quite a fun thing to do and people seemed to really appreciate it.
Food for Thought
Nobody ever talks about the food – this was so important to us. When we started planning we decided the three important factors were good food, plenty of booze and great music. We were also very clear the day was going to be relaxed and not at all formal so we wanted the food to reflect this and we wanted to avoid people being hungry. After the church people boarded the buses and were provided with journey snacks in blue and pink stripy bags – Tunnock’s teacakes and Caramel bars to represent Niall’s Scottish contingent.
When we arrived at the hall we had Jam Tart Cocktails – in old American sugar shakers with stripy straws. The drinks all lined up looked fab as people walked in and were delicious. The glass jars were probably my most ridiculous wedding project – I found them whilst in New York for 50cents each and knew they would look great. 150 later though I had to persuade everybody who came to visit me to wrap them up in their pants and take them home for me!
We then sat down for lunch – we had a cold buffet which was already laid out on each table and guests helped themselves ‘family style’. We had cold meats, salmon, bread, cheese board and salad. Everybody then attacked the cake table and helped themselves to an array of dessert following which we had the speeches. In the evening we had a hog roast with all the trimmings which was delicious followed by ice creams. I cannot recommend our caterers Uptons of Bassett highly enough – they went far above the call of duty, helping with everything and anything they could and the food was out of this world.
We really wanted a relaxed day with happy guests and a full dance floor. We thought it was important to keep as much as we could in one room as this created the atmosphere. We didn’t have a lot of help from hired staff – only the 3 guys from the caterers so we needed to rely on hard work beforehand from our friends and family and they really stepped up – we couldn’t have done it without them. We didn’t have a formal bar – the drinks were kept in a chiller and moved out as they needed to be replenished and people just helped themselves which worked really well. I would encourage people to think outside of the box in terms of a venue as we got ours for a tiny fraction of the price of some more formal spots we had considered and I don’t feel it meant we compromised on anything – in fact it meant we had the extra cash to do things like have a free bar all day. The venue itself also acted as a relaxant – really setting the scene and getting everybody to have a great day.
We had been concerned about the venue being forty minutes form the church but this was fine – we kept people amused with journey snacks on the way and the journey home was amazing – the spontaneous sing a long was one of the best bits of the day.
One of the best things my bridesmaid forced me to do before the wedding was sit down and write down every little thing that was meant to happen, when and who was involved. Having other people know what should be going on enabled them to help as opposed to everything just being in my head! Everybody was fantastic leading up to the day and on the day itself – we couldn’t have done it without all the help we got. Once we finished prepping the hall on the Friday night I totally let go and relaxed and just concentrated on enjoying the day which was one of the best things I could have done – once you get to that point you need to just enjoy it.