Albert Palmer always captures bucketloads of love and emotion in his gorgeous photographs and this is most definitely true of Stephen and Gemma’s big day too.
This beautiful pair were married at Leeds Cathedral by the Dean – Monsignor Philip Moger – who also happens to be Stephen’s uncle. I know…how special is that! There are peonies and roses, lace and sunshine and possibly one of the chicest, largest wedding parties I’ve seen in a long time.
I adore Gemma’s dress which suits her down to the ground and I think that it’s safe to say that Gemma’s dad agrees too. The emotional photo of him when he sees her for the first time gave me a lump in my throat and when I found out that he kept picking up her beautiful cathedral length veil in case it got dirty it almost tipped me over the edge.
Dad of the year award right there I think!
Come and have a look at this wonderful ‘I Do’…
Gemma The Bride:We wanted the best of both worlds – the hustle and bustle of our favourite city, Leeds, for the church ceremony at Leeds Cathedral combined with the beautiful, scenic Yorkshire Dales for our reception venue at The Coniston Hotel.
Whilst the Cathedral is a stunning venue, we had an extra special connection with it as Stephen’s uncle, Monsignor Philip Moger, is the Cathedral’s Dean – we were thrilled to have him marry us in such a special place.
I had always planned to go for a natural look, not to dissimilar to how I wear my hair every day. I wanted to look like ‘me’ in the photographs. My chosen hairdresser – Allison, from Northern Lights Hair salon in Bradford, listened to every word, although I think she thought I was a little crazy when I kept asking her to flatten my naturally curly hair, rather than adding volume.
I was very lucky having a make-up artist in the family, Stephen’s cousin, Megan who works for M.A.C. Again I wanted a natural look, but one that would last me all day. I opted for soft gray eyeshawdows, and peachy cheeks and lipstick.
My gown ‘Lucia’ was by Suzanne Neville – a designer I was introduced to by The Bridal Boutique owners’, Sally and Charlotte. I have to admit I was sceptical when they said it would feel totally different to all of the other dresses I’d tried on, but they were right. It hung perfectly, the cap sleeves gave me the extra detail I needed, and I knew straight away it was the one. Suzanne Neville is a true genius!!
I opted for a cathedral veil, in keeping with my lace dress. The lace edges really brought out the detail in my gown.
Coming from large families, we had quite a large bridal party. Six bridesmaids (sisters and sister-in-laws), seven ushers (including the best man), two page boys and two flower girls, so organising outfits for everyone was quite a challenge.
I had always pictured soft pastels and neutral colours for my wedding, in particular ivory dresses for the bridesmaids. During the planning process, I was inspired by vintage and rustic themed weddings but most importantly, I wanted the bridal party to look natural, relaxed and comfortable in their outfits.
The men all wore the same blue suit from Next, with brown knitted ties and tan coloured brogues. Stephen initially wanted to wear a lighter coloured Reiss suit, but the fit just wasn’t quite right. In the end, he decided on the matching Next suit and paired it with a pink knitted Reiss tie.
I knew that the flowers were going to be a key part in my wedding. I love big blooms – Roses, Peonies, Gypsophila and Freesias are some of my favourite flowers so incorporating these was essential.
Seeing my flowers on the morning of my wedding turned all of my nerves into pure excitement – as you don’t get to see them until the big day, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My florist Tanya completely blew me away with my bouquets – not only had she captured the style I was looking for, she had somehow manage to recreate the ‘just picked’ look. My bouquet was huge and I loved it.
When I pulled up to the church it was the first time I’d seen all of my bridesmaids together and they looked sensational. I couldn’t wait to get out of the car and get down the aisle.
As Catholics, our service was very traditional and so in keeping, Stephen was told he shouldn’t watch me walk down the aisle, and instead wait for me to arrive by his side. Initially, I had wanted him to watch me but was pleased he didn’t in the end. The moment when I finally stepped beside him was wonderful. He had a knowing smile that said ‘this is it!’
Walking out of the church as Mr and Mrs Drake was the best feeling. The church bells were ringing and a crowd had gathered outside complete with Chinese tourists who came to take some snaps. I remember thinking it was the best day of my life, and it was only just the beginning.
I really wanted an acoustic singer for our reception drinks. I’d asked around friends and family and came across Function Central, who recommended Daniel Ross from Liverpool. He was fantastic – playing a mixture from Bob Dillan, Jonny Cash and Cold play, he set the mood perfectly.
Choosing the right DJ was hugely important to us. With a real eclectic taste in music, we wanted someone who could offer us variety throughout the night. From the Rolling Stones to Swedish House Mafia – Dancefloor Couture provided it all. Robin Kershaw, our DJ was the perfect host and created such a great atmosphere, with amazing music and room uplighters positioned around the venue.
Stephen’s mum (such a talented family) made our fruit wedding cake, which was complimented with a flower cake topper. Simple yet stunning – exactly what I had hoped for.
With the help of friends, family and colleagues, I managed to collect over 100 jam jars and decorated each with lace, jute string and hessian, which worked perfectly as my centre pieces. I’ve since been asked to create more and I am now hiring my supply out to other brides.
Another item which I’d tried and failed to find was illuminated letters with lights. I wanted our initials ‘G&S’ creating as lights for the conservatory and top table. I ended up making these out of paper mache and old Christmas lights. These now sit nicely in our living room!
If I could pass on any advice then it would be to make time for each other. It might sound simple but try to check in with each other throughout the evening – Stephen and I excused ourselves when our favourite songs came on, caught a minute outside to pinch ourselves and tried to circulate as a couple as much as possible.