Inspiration

"We knew we wanted a really personal wedding from the outset so we focused on what mattered to the two of us rather than a particular style or theme". And what amazing results they are. The Winter Gardens is a truly gorgeous glass house venue, making the perfect backdrop for this sentimental wedding. Full of bright homegrown flowers and DIY travel and book decor, paying homage to both their hobbies and interests. Not forgetting a special appearance from a much loved family pet and an adorable vintage bicycle. The whole wedding party look absolutely gorgeous in a mix of pastel mint gowns and lemon ties from the high street and I couldn't imagine Bride Sarah in a more perfect gown than her dreamy backless lace Justin Alexander dress. As always RMW fave Sarah-Jane Ethan Photography has captured all the love and detail, making this wedding an absolute delight to swoon over.

The Dress

Sarah The Bride: I visited 8 different bridal shops and must have tried on over 30 different dresses trying to find ‘The One’. My mum must have had the patience of a saint to go to so many appointments with me! I had my heart set on a strapless ballgown with a lace trim and set out to find it but again and again I found that they just weren’t right for me and the wedding we were imagining. In the end I was drawn to the lace of the Justin Alexander collection and decided to try one on as a comparison to the fuller dresses I’d been looking at. From the outset I had always said I didn’t want a fitted dress, straps or a long train but as soon as I put it on I started to cry tears of relief. It was just perfect for me! As soon as I saw the back detail I knew it was the one. It was both classic and unique. At a later date I asked my future mother-in-law to sew in our wedding date to the hem of the dress as my something blue. I always knew I wanted to wear a veil with a touch of sparkle for the church part of the wedding and so I spent a few weeks just shopping for the right one. Then my friend (who had been married the previous year) offered me her veil as my something borrowed. I loved the idea instantly as we wanted our wedding to be as personal as possible. I agreed straightaway and it matched my dress perfectly. I always wanted to wear flowers for my wedding day as I’m more of a ‘flowers in my hair’ kind of girl than tiaras. I was however worried that they would wilt quickly in the summer heat so I opted for an artificial flower which I picked up from H&M.

Groom’s Fashion

John’s choice was a lot simpler. He knew he wanted a three piece suit without the formality of tails and cravats. He found his suit from Next which enabled us to purchase matching suits for the best man and ushers fairly easily. While we wanted to match the groomsmen’s tie colours to the bridesmaids John did have the idea to make his tie different by choosing a different colour. Since the main colours in our wedding décor were mint and lemon, he went for lemon which matched perfectly with the flower I wore in my hair on the day. One of my wedding gifts to John on the day were cufflinks with the initial of our new surname together which he chose to wear.

Venue

With half of our families up in the north of England and the other half in the south we researched a number of different locations before deciding on a wedding at home. We chose Sacred Heart RC Church in Newcastle because it was our local church. I had also visited it as a little girl and had fallen in love with grounds it was set in. We loved the idea of our wedding reception being held in a school as we had both been teachers at one point and we also loved the idea of having a party in a school after dark! But it was visiting The Winter Gardens wedding venue that cemented the idea for both of us. It was so light and spacious and felt like a Victorian ballroom. It was also a completely blank canvas so we could make our wedding really personal to us as a couple.

Colour Scheme and Décor

We knew we wanted a really personal wedding from the outset so we focused on what mattered to the two of us rather than a particular style or theme. I love books and I always knew I wanted books at my wedding so our centrepieces were themed around this idea and I also made blackboards with quotes from our favourite books to decorate the hall with. John is really into geography so our seating plan centred on a map of the different parks we have visited (we got engaged in a park bandstand in Amsterdam) and I also made a ton of map bunting. Finally we both love bikes so all of our stationery was bike themed and my bike even appeared as a decoration at the wedding reception.

Flowers

We decided quite early on that we wanted to grow our own flowers for the wedding so we set about sowing the seeds in April with the help of John’s mum Alison (a fantastic gardener). We used huge grow bags as we didn’t have soil in our back garden and helped them grow until the wedding in July. Both mums did the same and it meant that for the wedding we had a vast array of beautifully coloured flowers to decorate our venue with. The day before the wedding both mums cut and arranged the flowers in the jam jars we had collected as our centrepieces and we were blown away by the colour they injected into the room. I really would recommend growing your own flowers to other brides out there. It was easy, cheap and really really effective. Our bouquets were supplied by Diana Kay florist who have a stall in Fenwicks, Newcastle. I wanted bouquets that looked like I had just picked them from my garden to fit in with the flowers we already had. They were exactly what I asked for: bright, varied and wild. I couldn’t have been more pleased.

Entertainment

Music was important to both of us in the planning of the wedding and so we knew we would like a live band. John found The Warning Tones through an internet search and they seemed highly recommended. After listening to a few songs and watching a few of their videos we knew we wanted them at our wedding. They seemed to offer such a varied range of musical choices and always created such a party atmosphere. They even offered to learn a song for us and while our choice was quite unconventional, they quickly agreed and it went down well on the dance floor.

Food

The food was provided by Ramside Catering and they could not have been more helpful from the outset. They talked us through every choice and decision and made us feel instantly at ease. They reworked menus to suit our taste, arrived early to help us set up our reception venue, offered us a toastmaster and even helped us by tidying up at the end of the night so we didn’t have to! John’s mum Alison also made the little pots of jam we had as wedding favours. Everyone commented on how good they were and there were none left at the end of the night which is always a good sign! Our very talented friends Cat and Pete made our gorgeous wedding cake as a wedding gift to us.

Photographer

As soon as we saw Sarah-Jane Ethan’s photography we knew we had to have her at our wedding. She always seemed to capture the most personal and warm shots of a wedding day and since we wanted a fairly informal wedding we knew she would be able to capture the most important moments of the day. We could not have been more pleased with the photos of our day. Throughout the entire day she was friendly, flexible and completely approachable and she captured moments that we otherwise might have missed without directing the day at all. Her photos are truly beautiful.

DIY

I loved all of the DIY projects that I undertook in preparation for my wedding from the sewing of the bunting to the blackboard painting to the cutting up of tiny map and novel confetti but it was the help from our friends and family setting it up the day before which showed us how lucky we really were as a couple. I know DIY is not everyone’s cup of tea but it enabled us to really personalise our wedding to ensure we had the wedding we wanted. We used a huge photo wall at the back of the room to celebrate the friendships we were lucky to have as a couple. There were two rather unique parts to our wedding day which we loved. The first being the wedding speeches. John and I decided to both give a speech on our wedding day along with my dad and John’s best man. I loved standing proudly beside my new husband and getting to tell our friends and family how much he meant to me on the most important day of our lives and I would recommend it to any bride out there. Secondly, we had a very special guest at our wedding in the form of John’s family dog Zoe. She is such a huge part of the family we could not have imagined having the wedding without her. She wore a gorgeous ribbon to match the bridesmaids and was a delight all day. We also managed to sneak some cute photos with her thanks to Sarah Jane Ethan. We loved every second of our wedding day because we made sure it was what we as a couple wanted and getting to share that with our closest friends and family was priceless. My biggest advice to any future bride is have the wedding you both want as a couple and enjoy every second of it as it flies past!

Written by Lorna Shaw

Dress Designer: Justin Alexander | Headdress: H&M | Bridesmaid Dresses: Debenhams | Grooms Suit: Next | Venue: The Winter Gardens | Florist: Diana Kaye Florist | Entertainment: The Warning Tones | Caterer: Ramside Event Catering

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