This urban city wedding in Manchester is ridiculously stylish. Big yellow balloons, giant art backdrops and seriously chic attire.
Rachel adores Sex and the City so just had to have her very own pair of Carrie, blue satin Hangisi Manolo Blahnik’s. Especially as they could be admired by everyone along with her super cute tea length Ellis Bridal gown. Those sleeves. That full skirt. Absolutely beaut. You just have to check out Andy’s adorable terrier pocket square too.
Damian from DSB creative has captured all the quirkiness and all the fun this couple hoped to bring to their intimate celebration, which is absolutely bursting with personality, love and laughter, not to mention full of more than a few handy money saving tips too.
Rachel The Bride: I had been looking at wedding dresses since the day we got engaged and I knew exactly what I wanted; a loose floaty bohemian number with loads of beading and intricate detail. As you can, see I didn’t end up with that at all! It’s strange really, once we’d decided we were going to get married in our home-city and have an urban wedding, this dress just felt like the perfect one to get married in. My best mate Charis was with me at the time I tried it on and she announced that I “strutted” about in it, which was probably a little bit true, and before we left the shop I decided that I loved it, but I was worried about it looking a bit twee. Then I remembered the blue Manolo Blahniks that Carrie wears to marry Big in the Sex and the City film; I figures, if you’re going to wear a short dress you need some amazing shoes to go with it!
My Grandma left me some money in her will, which she earmarked for my wedding dress, so this dress was a bit out of my budget and I really couldn’t justify paying any more for my dress. I emailed every supplier of Ellis dresses within a 4 hour drive of home and asked whether they could source the dress in-budget. Beverleys Beautful Brides of Barnsley came up trumps, and suddenly I had the outfit I would marry Andy in. I spent the next 3 months looking on Instagram at other brides wearing it to check Id made the right decision and panicking that Andy would hate it. He didn’t; he said about 20 times on the day “its just the perfect dress!!!”, bless him.
The Grooms Fashion
Andys a snappy dresser, but as a digital creative fella he doesn’t “do” suits; his lot are all chinos and beards. We went shopping for his wedding outfit in the Boxing Day sales at the Trafford Centre. I was on the verge of losing the will to live when he came out of the dressing room in Ted Baker looking so gorgeous in this navy woollen suit. I cried when he came out because suddenly I could picture marrying him in this outfit and it all felt like it was falling into place.
The Thomas Pink terrier-print pocket-square was my gift to him on the morning of the wedding, as we’re both a bit obsessed with dogs and he was struggling for something which wasn’t just a boring old pocket square. The first laugh of the ceremony came as I forgot myself and set to work straightening his bow-tie and readjusting the pocket-square so that just the right amount of print was showing, whist saying my vows. The control freak in me took over for a second there, but it broke the ice at least!
We struggled to find our venue; we are both very anti-religion and we hated any venue we viewed where the staff told us it was “our special day!” or that assumed I wanted to be a princess. I didn’t, I just wanted to marry the love of my life and have a day that felt like every other celebration we have shared during our life together so far; informal and full of laughter and friends.
Andy used to work at Manchester Town Hall; it’s such a beautiful building and he always talked about us getting married there and how lucky we are to have a building like that in our home city. My friend is a food and drink blogger and recommended Rosylee in the Northern Quarter; it’s a restaurant with an amazing cocktail bar upstairs, The Fitzgerald. They only do a couple of weddings a year and the food, wine and cocktails were very important to us both so it felt like the perfect choice. Luckily they are ace at all of the above, and as soon as we met Abbey the Manager and we bonded over a mutual hatred of traditional weddings we knew we’d found the right place and the perfect person to manage it all.
I started with the colour of my shoes, which Id had my eye on since watching Carrie and Big get married in the Sex and the City film. The bridesmaids were in Navy as I wanted them not to clash with my shoes, whilst also looking classic. I was also conscious of the fact we were getting married in April and Manchester isn’t known for being particularly warm or sunny in April, so I stuck to a darker palate to complement the inevitably grey sky.
The colour palate was all looking a bit dark and so the massive yellow balloons were bought to counter this. I kept seeing them on Pintrest and fell in love. Lisa at Especially for you thought I was bonkers wanting five 3 ft balloons, but everyone loved them and trying to squeeze 5 huge balloons onto a packed vintage London bus in torrential rain was one of the funniest moments of the day. At one point I was on my hands and knees with balloons over my head shouting “Push! Push!” as our guests pushed each balloon down the bus.
We continued with the grey, yellow and navy theme with the pom poms in both venues and the flowers on the tables.
The florist we used was chosen after my best friend used her for her wedding 12 months prior to ours. The only brief I gave Christine was “I like spiky flowers” and she nailed it with an absolutely pathetic brief from me. She grew some of the flowers for my bouquet and Andy’s buttonhole from seed, and then dropped the plant off after our wedding so that we could have it in our garden and always think of the day. When she told me that, it was the first thing that made me cry on the morning of our wedding, and we shared a little tear and a cuddle in the kitchen as she talked me through what was in my bouquet and why (smell, sentiment etc).
Wedding Party Fashion
I started off having no bridesmaids, which quickly turned into four. They were dressed in “InOne” dresses, which meant they could look similar but also be dressed in a style that suited them, hid their lumps and bumps and showed off the bits they wanted to flaunt. I bought them each a dressing gown to get ready in on the morning of the wedding, which came all the way from India via Etsy and were all the same fabric and pattern but different colours to reflect how we are all similar but different too. Again, the control freak in me hates those “getting ready” pictures when everyones in hoodies and mis-matching pyjamas. I wanted the girls to have something to remind them of the day, but that they’d get some use out of too and would also look pretty on the pictures.
We didnt have formal “groomsmen”; instead we just asked our mates to divvy up the drinks and herd everyone on and off the bus, so they each had jobs but no official title. They did this whilst looking gorgeous in their own lovely suits, which continued with the informal theme of the day. And as luck would have it they all pretty much ended up in navy, which was a happy accident as they matched Andy!
I walked in holding my Dads hand, just behind my bridesmaids, to Martha Reeves and the Vandellas “Heatwave” absolutely blasting out. My poor old Dad looked like someone had got the music wrong when it kicked in, but the words are exactly how I feel about Andy, and I wanted the music to set the tone for the rest of the day. Fun fun fun!
We were conscious that some civil ceremonies can have a whiff of “one, two, three – you’re married!” about them, and for the price we paid to hire out the town hall we wanted to get our money’s worth! To make the ceremony the most meaningful part of the day, as it should be, we asked our friends to choose readings which made them think of us. Nic and Lou are like Bert and Ernie; we just cant imagine one existing without the other, so they chose a reading and read it together.
We originally planned to choose the readings and had both imagined our friend Priya reading the Bob Marley poem “You’re not perfect”, and then we decided to let the girls choose their own reading instead as we felt that would be more personal. I absolutely sobbed when Priya started reading and I realised she had chosen the exact same poem we’d imagined her reading. It reflects our relationship perfectly and it was so touching to see that she’d recognised that.
I booked Inigo, our singer, whilst drunk on a night out with my girlfriends 6 months before the wedding. The month before the wedding Andy and I had to venture to Chester one Sunday afternoon to check him out and see if he was any good when sober. Turns out, he’s amazing (phew!). He played acoustic covers of Bob Marley, The Smiths, The Arctic Monkeys and Oasis (our favourites) whilst we drank cocktails and had celebratory hugs off our guests at Rosylee. He was so accommodating with our song choices and our guests absolutely loved him. He made the start of the reception feel really laid back and cool.
Our DJ was Dom of WCD Entertainment. He complimented us on our set list; old school 80s hip hop for Andy, indie classics for me and managed to blend them to create the ultimate dance-along playlist. We wanted the evening to feel like a night in our living room after too many glasses of wine; our house parties generally last until about 4am and result in slipper-induced blisters and Dom made sure this night was no exception.
We had the advantage of tasting a range of options for the meal and all the cocktails and wines before we made our final choices for the day; as you can imagine, this didn’t help my pre-wedding diet one little bit!
We served Prosecco and beer on the bus between the Town Hall and Rosylee, then had a choice of two cocktails at Rosylee when we got there, then had buckets of beer and really good wines and Prosecco on the table for the meal.
We went for sharing platters for the starter, to encourage conversation between guests, and then rib of beef or salmon for main, followed by Battenburg (it was my Grandmas favourite) or sticky toffee pudding for dessert.
Later in the evening we had bacon sandwiches, mini fish and chip cones and mini pasties to fuel the dancing. We totally over-ordered the evening nibbles and most guests ended up going home with a pastie in each pocket.
My friend at work recommended her friend Damo even before we’d set the date for the wedding. I looked on his website not expecting much (isn’t it always the way when someone “knows someone” that its nothing like you want and you have to be polite and then make up an excuse?). Anyway, I was totally blown away by his pictures. Andy works in a creative industry, so he wanted the photographs to be amazing, as theyre the only bit of the day you get to keep after its all done and dusted. Damo fitted our brief perfectly; some of his stuff looks like a vogue photoshoot rather than a wedding, and that’s exactly what we wanted. By complete coincidence, our friends booked Damo independent of us for their wedding 6 months prior; this gave us an opportunity to get to know him beforehand and to have a real good laugh with him. He’s such a lovely bloke and by the time our wedding came around he was a friend rather than someone we were conscious of having around. So many of our guests commented on how lovely he was; he was a complete hit!
We took the opportunity to have a pre-wedding photoshoot with Damo the week before the ceremony. Popping to our local first and then posing in the fields behind our house after a few pints of Guinness helped settle our nerves, and we felt really comfortable having our pictures taken on the day itself. I’d definitely recommend it as it meant we were more natural infront of the camera on the actual day.
Advice & DIY
Ebay was definitely my friend in the weeks leading upto the wedding; every day parcels kept arriving to the point where our garage was full of wedding stuff. But it was cheap as anything and helped us stay in budget whilst also achieving the look we wanted. And I really didn’t mind messing with my glue-gun each night as we watched the TV and I created selfie props.
I always forget confetti at weddings and then feel sad, and I love confetti pictures, so I bought little paper bags (yellow chevron to fit our colour theme) and rose petals off ebay and made little confetti bags for each of the girls. It cost about £20 and was a pre-wedding craft-job that I really enjoyed, and then Nic and Lou (who did our reading) handed them out to the ladies as they arrived at the Town Hall. Having mates who were more than happy to do jobs made all the difference!
I bought loads of pom-poms off ebay to decorate the venue; they were so cheap and just needed making into pom-poms when they arrived; Id definitely recommend buying them from china and allowing about a month for them to arrive as they cost about £10 for everything and if Id have bought them ready-made Id have been looking at about 10 times that.
We bought Prosecco and beers for on the bus between the Town Hall and Rosylee to get the party started from the minute the ceremony was over. Paying for plenty of booze for our guests really helped get the atmosphere right for when the speeches started as we wanted a bit of drunken heckling and laughing in the right places!
We wanted guests to be able to record a message for us on the night, so we bought a typewriter for a tenner off ebay and then yellow paper to go with our colour theme. We sat up in bed on our wedding night crying laughing at the drunken messages off our guests, many which started with “How on earth do you use a typewriter???? Who buys a typewriter for their wedding???”. It was a nice alternative to a guest-book and we’ve now framed one of the messages and it makes me smile every time I pass it and think of the day and our buddies crowing round the typewriter trying to suss it out.
I was hesitant about having bridesmaids as we only had a guest-list of 60 and I have two best mates and two sisters who I couldn’t choose between, and four bridesmaids felt a bit excessive. I’m so pleased I had bridesmaids though; they made the morning of the wedding so much fun. Being surrounded on that morning by girls who helped me get ready and made endless cups of tea and played beyonce until the walls shook was brilliant; it was a real party atmosphere in our house before we set off, and I loved how we all went on the bus together to the wedding as we laughed and joked all the way, so my nerves subsided and I forgot about the torrential sideways rain and being nervous when we got there.
We stayed together the night before the wedding, at home, and then Andy was there until about 11.30 in the morning as we were all getting really. Its not conventional, but it was so lovely waking up next to eachother and having breakfast together and nattering to our mates as we were all getting ready. I think I would’ve been nervous if I hadn’t spoken to or seen Andy until I got to the top of the aisle, it felt more natural for us to be together on the morning of our wedding.
I’d definitely recommend scouting out some places you would like pictures taken before the wedding. We spotted the huge bird mural the night before the wedding as we had a meal together in Manchester. Andy spotted it and said “we HAVE to have a picture under that tomorrow”, and I’ve always loved the Mark Kennedy mosaic on the side of Afflecks Palace, so we asked Damo to incorporate those into our pictures and they’re our favourite ones as they really mean something to us.
I really think it’s important to have the day as a reflection of the two of you and the life you share together. Sometimes that means having really frank conversations with people you love who are contributing money towards the day, and that wasn’t easy for us, but it was so worth it in the end and I’m pleased we stuck to our guns. It took us ten years to get our heads round the fact that weddings don’t have to be full of tradition and people you don’t know, and so once we decided to get married we were keen to keep it as a reflection of us and what we like. A lot of people really enjoy convention and following tradition on their wedding day, whereas we don’t and we knew the more we followed the wedding rules the less it would feel like “our” day. So, we picked and chose the bits we liked about weddings and ditched the bits we didn’t and it made the day feel more special and unique. We got married on our 10th anniversary in the city we love, surrounded by the support network that has helped us immensely over those years, and that meant the world to us. As we sat having our meal I looked around the room at all our friends and family, laughing and drinking together and I felt so privileged to have so many amazing people in our world, celebrating our love for one another.
Photography by Damian Brandon
- Dress Designer Ellis Bridal
- Bridal Boutique Beverleys Beautiful Brides
- Bee Pendant Etsy – QueenieJewels
- Bridal Shoes Manolo Blahnik Hangisi
- Venue Rosylee in the Northern Quarter Manchester
- Florist Christine Neild Floral Design, Saddleworth
- Balloons Especially for you
- Bridesmaid Dresses InOne Dresses
- Grooms Attire Ted Baker
- Singer Inigo Music
- DJ Dom Sobowski of WDC Entertainment
- Transport RM Buses, Wigan