It’s a perfectly pretty Spring wedding on offer this morning; more specifically the gorgeous big day from Lorna and George at Askham Hall in Cumbria. Lorna tells me her hubby George was very involved in the planning of their travel inspired wedding sourcing their suppliers and spending hours punching heart shaped confetti from a stack of vintage atlases. Apparently George was also instrumental in finding their wedding photographer Sam Docker too. What a superstar!
Anyway I digress. There are so many lovely touches in this wedding that it’s impossible to list them all but I will give a special mention to the lovely bridesmaids’ dresses and the wonderful vintage travel themed centrepieces on their wedding tables, oh and their card table too. So thoughtful and so beautiful too.
The Brides Fashion
Lorna The Bride: As a lover of vintage and second-hand clothing living in Abu Dhabi, I thought finding a dress I liked was going to be difficult. Vintage clothing is not really available in the UAE and I had only planned to spend one day looking for dresses in the UK before the wedding. My mum and I went to Leeds for the day and scoured the vintage shops, finding nothing at all. Just as we were about to give up, we stumbled upon a bridal boutique in Queen’s Arcade, whilst taking shelter from the rain.
My eyes fixed on a tea-length number but the assistants encouraged me to take a few to try, starting with a floor-length tulle dress with delicate diamante detailing around the neckline. As I stepped out my Mum instantly knew it was the one, and I think I knew too, even though it was nothing like I thought I’d choose. It felt rash, but it felt good, and I’d never wanted the dress shopping to become a long and agonising process. So we just did it! We had to hit the pub after, whilst we recovered from the shock.
I had the train removed, as movement was important to me, but otherwise it was perfect.
I wanted to keep accessories simple, so just a pair of crystal teardrop earrings for me. I’m not a high end kind of girl; I found a pair from Claire’s Accessories that were perfect. My shoes were a gift from my Grandad, they were a classic style with a cool twist. They were entirely covered with tiny caviar-like beads that had a slight glitter to them. And most importantly they were comfortable!
The Grooms Fashion
George had a bespoke suit made at Ascot and Chapels in Abu Dhabi. He chose a Prince of Wales check that had blue running through the pattern. He wore black brogues that had blue laces and a touch of blue within the cut pattern. His jacket had a subtle paisley lining and our names embroidered on the inside for a personal touch. We found a polka dot bow tie in the sale at H&M that completed the outfit.
I made George’s wedding ring at a workshop with Lia Stahlin in Abu Dhabi. I carved the wax cast myself, and Lia poured the silver and did the finishing for me.
Much like the dress, we only had a short window for looking at venues. I’d wanted to marry in a barn in the countryside and he wanted great food and somewhere family members could stay within the venue for the weekend. We were lucky enough that we fell in love with the first place we visited, Askham Hall. It was the best of both worlds: ceremony, wedding breakfast and evening reception were held in their rustic barn and the drinks reception was in the gorgeous grade I listed Peel Tower. We put the deposit down the same day and cancelled all the other viewings we had lined up.
The colour scheme loosely followed the colours of the bridesmaid dresses. The wedding was a vintage travel theme, so we also included blues and greens from the map and atlas patterns.
We used SVL Hire to help us make the barn smaller with a voile curtain partition. They wrapped the beams with fairy lights, and hung the paper lanterns, which were George’s idea. It really looked magical.
We struggled to find a florist at first with Mother’s Day being the weekend of our wedding. We were relieved to find Laura from Greenwheat. I went to her armed with the bridesmaid dress to serve as the moodboard, and some blue glass mason jars I’d ordered on Ebay and asked for something sort of rustic looking. The rest I left to her.
I would have loved to have spent months scouring charity and vintage shops for all the props and pieces I wanted for the décor, but that had to be sacrificed since we live overseas. So I got in touch with Carol at Itsy Bitsy Vintage. She created perfect centrepieces for the day, using log slices and selection of vintage cameras and sunglasses. She also decorated our guest table with a globe, suitcases, a Japanese parasol, and all sorts of wonderful knick knacks, and styled the cake table too. We hired her vintage china sets for the serving of coffee and wedding cake down in the stone walled café area, to create a lovely tea party feel, with lots of bunting to boot.
The Wedding Party Fashion
I wanted my bridesmaids to channel a fifties sort of vibe; feminine but fun. The Audrey range from Lindybop was really flattering for all the girls, and were very affordable too. The floral pattern was a natural choice for me.
The flower girl dress was easy. George’s daughter, Milly, proudly claims to dislike all things girly, so I let her choose her own, rather than forcing her into something she hated entirely. Without any sway from me, she chose a knee length A-line number too and it worked perfectly with the other dresses.
We had a simple civil ceremony. Milly read an extract from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. I’d read the book on a visit to Kefalonia just before I moved to Abu Dhabi, just as our love story was beginning, and we felt the passage held a lot of meaning.
Although I don’t live close, I come from a tight family and last year we took a blow when my Grandma passed away. She was the matriarch; loving and vivacious, her absence was deeply felt. She left her wedding ring to me, and I tied it to my bouquet with twine, to keep her with me on the day.
We had a harpist for the ceremony and the pianist from our evening band played the grand piano at the reception in the main hall. For the wedding breakfast, George compiled his own playlist, and in the evening we had the awesome Bourbon Street Band who completely rocked everyone’s socks off.
We hired a vintage photo booth backdrop from Wilde and Romantic and set up our own SLR camera on a tripod. Afterwards we made a Facebook album with all the snaps. It was much cheaper than a full service booth and it worked beautifully with the venue and our theme, and everyone had a lot of fun with it.
The food was incredible. Askham Hall grow their own vegetables and rear their own livestock so everything was just delicious. George, being from Torquay, always jokes about my Northern, pie-loving tendencies; it had to make the menu. The caramelised shallot tartin with goat’s cheese was so good I barely left space for the homemade beef and ale pudding.
There was a butternut squash and cumin soup too, and roast breast of chicken in a mustard and celeriac sauce, served with fresh egg tagliatelle.
We had the wedding cakes for desert, chocolate, red velvet and a lemon drizzle, all iced in a plain power blue, circled in edible lace and topped with fresh flowers.
In the evening we had a hearty spread of pork pies, cheeses, rustic bread and chutneys.
Sam was a dream. He got some awesome pictures and we enjoyed his company as much as any of our guests. He was super-efficient whilst putting everyone totally at ease. He was one of George’s many marvellous finds.
Like many people, I think we saw a wedding video as a lavish extra that we should probably forgo for the sake of the budget. Now I think we were wrong. Along with the pictures, and the amazing memories, it’s the only real thing we got to take away from our day and we love it. Silver Sixpence Films brought a whole new depth for those who couldn’t be there on the day and we really cherish the result. They did a superb job.
Advice for others
People often told me that wedding planning would be stressful, so I was surprised at how straightforward it was in places really, even from thousands of miles away. Nearly everything can be arranged or bought online (a special thanks to my parents for taking in all my eBay deliveries!). We chose a great set of suppliers who were all reliable, and they did a beautiful job. The hardest part that I didn’t expect was the guest management. It’s kind of hard making sure everyone is sorted and all the quirky needs are catered for, but totally worth it of course!
I think gut instinct served us well on most things and I shouldn’t have ignored it when choosing bridesmaid dresses. I looked at thousands of dresses and ended up choosing the very first one we looked at together. I guess some people enjoy the research and planning, and I totally did, but only to a certain extent. Follow your heart when making choices and it’s likely to be much more enjoyable.
I had some ideas in mind for the save the dates (a postcard style design that folded into a paper aeroplane) and a homemade passport style invitation, neither of which would have come to fruition without the graphic design skills of my bridesmaid Laura. She had the patience of a saint when it came to the revisions, and even spent hours in a production line with George and I when it came to rubber stamping them all when she came to visit us on ‘holiday’.
I bought some destination rubber stamps from eBay for the inner pages. I also had a couple of bespoke ones made through Etsy, including a ‘King’ family coat of arms (by Stamping Cache), which I used to create passport cover.
My bridesmaid Alex’s mum is also a dab hand with the sewing machine. She painstakingly made 70 luggage labels from atlas patterned oilcloth. These made gorgeous place cards and doubled up as favours too.
The ‘guest book’ was a stack of vintage style holiday postcards for people to write on, which I plan to bind together when I get round to it.
For the seating plan I bought a map from Not on the High Street, a cheap frame from The Range, a ball of twine and Kraft card for the names. I actually ended up putting this together on the morning of the wedding, in a rare quiet moment – George laughs at me for always being so last minute but I found having something to do quite therapeutic.
George was a hands-on groom from the start. He got the whole thing organised really. He did everything from sourcing the suppliers to spending hours punching heart shaped confetti from a stack of vintage atlases. We had a lot of fun putting it all together and the wedding was such a fun but relaxed day. A day bursting with love. It was exactly how we had both wanted it to be.
Photography by Samuel Docker Photography
- Brides Gown Rosetta Nicolini
- Jewellery Drop earrings by Claire’s Accessories
- Shoes Red or Dead from Schuh
- Florist Greenwheat Flowers
- Decor Itsy Bitsy Vintage
- Vintage Photo Booth backdrop hire Wilde and Romantic
- Lighting SVL Hire
- Cake Maker Fantasweets
- Venue Askham Hall
- Bridesmaids Dresses Lindybop
- Groom Bespoke suit from Ascot and Chapels
- Ceremony Harpist Anna Howard
- Evening band The Bourbon Street Band
- Videographer Silver Sixpence Films