Morning all, yet another beautiful day! This is such a sweet little wedding; I love the chintzy appeal and the lovely lace Charlotte Balbier dress that bride Claire wears. English Teacher Claire and her husband Rob’s wedding took place on 30th October last year with a ceremony at St Peter’s Church, followed by a reception at Woodhill Hall, both in Otterburn, Northumberland.
“The day was a mixture of lots of different things we liked, but didn’t have one set singular theme. As it was Autumn time we picked a mauvey purple to use for bridesmaids dresses, and this was reflected in other aspects of the day too. We are also big fans of the 1920s, and tried to reflect some of the glitz and glamour of the era through candelabra and sparkly votives, as well as hiring a 1920s style car – and Rob wore a ‘Gatsby’ style hat. All in all, we wanted a relaxed, informal affair, and that tasty food and local beer also had a big part to play. So all in all rather eclectic, but we felt that definitely reflected us as a couple!"
Photography Copyright (c) 2014, SDS Photographyand
“Rob and I were teenage sweethearts, and met through friends when I was 16 and Rob was 17 way back in 2001. We were together 11 years before we got engaged.
Rob proposed completely by surprise in Feb 2012, on a mini break to Bremen Germany. We had enjoyed a number of beers in a traditional bierkeller and as we walked home (slightly tipsy) Rob suddenly proposed with a beautiful 1920s diamond ring on a bridge over the river Weser. Rob doesn’t usually ‘do’ romance, but he excelled himself here! I was so shocked I thought it was all a joke at first! We celebrated with pretzels and more beer. We were engaged about 8 months before we started planning so had a bit of time to save up, and then booked the wedding exactly a year in advance of the day itself.
Planning a wedding in a year gave me enough time to consider different ideas, but also meant I had to make my decisions quite quickly, which was ideal for someone who is usually very indecisive!”
“As we both grew up in Northumberland we knew we wanted to get married out there amongst its breath-taking scenery. Although we both now live in Lancashire our hearts definitely lie in the North East!
Woodhill was the first venue I looked at with my mum and we were stunned by its individuality and quirky design. Each room is different and it boasts such wonders as the Love Shack (a vintage gypsy caravan) a folly and a bedroom called the Darcy room (perfect for an English teacher!) Straight away I knew it would give us the informal and personal day that we wanted, and its owner Corrine was so helpful and flexible. It was booked before Rob even saw it! We also loved the fact that you got exclusive use of the venue and bedrooms so all our loved ones could stay over the night before and join in some pre-wedding festivities, making it a real event rather than just a single day.
As it was my birthday the day before we all celebrated with a BBQ in their Scandavian style BBQ hut which was a perfect way to relax before the big day itself. Having the venue over three days meant we got all the hard work done the day before so the pre-wedding evening could be spent enjoying ourselves without hassle."
“My shoes were the ivory Mimosa design by Rachel Simpson. These vintage T-Bar shoes perfectly matched everything about my outfit, and the day itself, and reminded me of the shoes my grandma would wear for ballroom dancing. I ordered them online without trying them, so was a little worried about how they would fit. However these worries were unfounded, the shoes were not just beautiful, but were also extremely comfortable and I danced all night in them without any pain (and normally I take my shoes off very early on when dancing!)
They came packaged in a beautiful box, and opening them for the first time was a really special moment. They also come in green and pink, and I am tempted to buy another pair just because they are so lovely! On the bottom we stuck decals, one reading ‘I’ and the other reading ‘Do’ just for a silly touch.”
“My beautiful French lace dress with sleeves was ‘Elodie’ by Charlotte Balbier, the first dress I tried on! It was purchased from the fabulous YAP Bridal in Newcastle who were brilliant from beginning to end. I would definitely recommend them to any North East brides, as they stock a really gorgeous array of dresses and make what could be a daunting process a real breeze. I knew I wanted a vintage style dress with sleeves and had always had my heart set on lace. Similarly I also knew I wanted something quite unstructured and informal, in keeping with the vision for the whole day. I did a lot of internet searching and finally came across Charlotte Balbier’s range, and knew straight away I wanted one of her dresses!
YAP Bridal were the only place in the North East to stock Charlotte Balbier, so I made an appointment and they recommended the Elodie dress to me. I loved its puddle train and scalloped edge and its low cut back, as well as the light embellishment across the bust and it really was love at first sight/try. I tried on a few more dresses afterwards, just to make sure but couldn’t focus on anything else but Elodie! Unfortunately I ended up being hospitalised two months before the wedding, and had a big panic when it came to my dress fitting as my stomach was still very swollen from my illness. The dress was let out to accommodate this, but by the next fitting it needed taking in! The fabulous seamstress, Anne, worked extraordinarily hard to get it perfect, and it fitted like a dream on the day thankfully."
“My bridesmaids dresses were chiffon gowns by Dessy (style 2890) and came in the colour ‘Smashing’ which perfectly suited the Autumn setting of our wedding. We knew we wanted full length dresses in a non-shiny fabric, and having worn Dessy dresses as a bridesmaid myself I knew their quality and fit. Originally we were thinking of different styles, as my four bridesmaids are all very different, but we found this elegant, almost Grecian style at Rosina Brown Bridal in Hexham, and it worked well on all four of them.
As they all lived in different parts of the country we had to do dress fittings separately, but it all worked out fine."
"One of my bridesmaids was actually 15 weeks pregnant by the wedding, but the loose style of the dress meant it didn’t need any alterations and the girls all felt the dresses were really comfortable and allowed them to dance the night away! The dresses also had clever lengths of fabric at the back which blended in with the skirts that could be used as a wrap to protect against the Autumn chills! The bridesmaids all sourced their own shoes from various different retailers, the only stipulation was something silvery, and they all individually went for quite sparkly designs, which looked lovely peeping out from under their dresses.
Lilly Rose Weddings did the flowers and they were a big part of the day. I love roses, and we found a beautiful purple pink flower called an ‘amnesia’ rose which was incorporated in all the arrangements. As well as the bouquets and buttonholes, we had roses in the church at the end of the pews and a bigger arrangement on the alter which looked beautiful. Each candelabra centrepiece was also decorated with flowers. My bouquet was more purpley in hue, and the bridesmaids had pinker arrangements for a nice contrast. We also had a lot of greenery mixed in to reflect the Northumbria countryside, and the arrangements were tied up with matching lace bands. I have since dried my bouquet following instructions on the internet, and so have it nicely preserved as a permanent reminder of the day."
"Our photographers were SDS Photography, who are based in the North East of England, They were recommended to us through a family friend, and after looking at the laid back style of photos they took on their blog, we knew they were the ones for us. As neither of us are big ‘photo’ people, the idea of lots of traditional, staged stuffy photographs made us shudder. Instead Simon blended seamlessly into the wedding party and took lots of natural shots, also managing to capture lots of the beautiful Northumberland scenery at the same time.
We felt they really listened to and understood us and would recommend them to other couples without hesitation. We are delighted with the finished pictures, and have filled our house with them!"
“I wore a mid length soft veil edged in scalloped vintage lace to match the dress, also purchased from YAP Bridal. I tried to find a slightly more purse friendly option, but couldn’t find anything as nice, so in the end my mum persuaded me to go for it, and I’m so glad I did as it really set the whole outfit off.
I wore an antique gold head band with a flower design on one side, purchased again from YAP, and designed by Amanda Wyatt. I wanted something glitzy but not too ‘in your face’ to peep out of my hair style. I actually learnt later that Amanda Wyatt is Charlotte Balbier’s mum, so that linked my headband even more appropriately to the dress.
I also wore a simple pearl necklace and single pearl stud earrings that are my mum’s and had been promised to me since I was little for the day, (they doubled nicely as my ‘something borrowed’), a rose gold ring that was my nanna’s, and a beautiful pearl Tiffany’s bracelet from their Great Gatsby inspired ‘Ziegfeld’ range, that Rob completely surprised me with the night before our wedding ( a joint wedding and birthday present!)”
"My make-up was done by the fab Paula at Perfection makeup . I wanted to keep a sense of ‘me’ and not go for anything too different, so I went for the black eyeliner and red lipstick that I usually like to wear, but Paula helped me to weave this into a more bridal look. I was a huge fan of the ‘airbrush’ foundation that she used, and the makeup lasted the whole event without fading. She also did all the bridesmaids’ makeup, and gave each of them an individualised look.
For hair we went with a recommendation and had Rachel from Salon 21 in Newcastle come up to Woodhill. She is very talented and unbelievably quick- each bridesmaid had a slightly different updo with their slide in, whilst I went for half up, half down with a small beehive for some volume. She was also very helpful and gave me advice during the trial such as hanging my veil up and stretching my head band in advance of the big day, little things I hadn’t actually thought about.”
"Rob wore a grey three piece suit hired from Moss Bros. Not being a big fan of traditional jackets, Rob was very keen on a waistcoat that he could wear and still look smart when he had taken the jacket off. The ties we picked were also a shade of purple so helped to add a bit of colour variation to the grey suits. Rob spends most of his life in shorts and T-shirts, so I was amazed at how smart and handsome he looked on the day!
On his feet Rob wore black leather 1920s style brogues, purchased after much searching from Office. As a wedding gift I bought him a silver Nixon watch that he wore, as well as some novelty personalised wedding socks. Rob had always known he wanted to wear a flat ‘Gatsby’ cap and purchased one from an online hat store in a matching grey to the suit. The hat provoked some mixed responses- my granddad didn’t really like it, but other people said it was the coolest wedding hat they had ever seen!"
"My dad walked me down the aisle. The aisle in our church is very short so we didn’t have far to go, however it was still extremely emotional and you can really see how I am trying to keep the tears in in the photos! The short car journey to the church with just my dad and I was a lovely chance to spend a bit of quiet time together before the ceremony and after the busy morning of getting ready!
Although St Peter’s Church wasn’t our usual church, it was perfect. We decided to stick with the traditional Catholic wedding vows, as we felt they were perfectly meaningful and didn’t need any alterations. Our priest, Father McKenna ,made the whole service highly enjoyable as he is such a lively character, and he reduced all the guests to laughter a number of times throughout. Even though a lot of people there were not religious, everybody joined in with responses and hymns as we gave them a detailed order of service, and many guests remarked how unique the ceremony was. It meant a lot to us and our families for it to be done in church.
I have heard stories about it being very difficult for some couples to get married in churches they don’t usually go to, but Father McKenna made the whole process very straightforward for us. The church was very small, but we loved the intimate feel of it (even if some guests did have to stand at the back!)"
"For our bible reading we picked part of the ‘Song of Solomon’ which was read beautifully by Katherine, one of my old school friends. Our second reading was Sonnet xvii by Pablo Neruda read by Sarah, one of my bridesmaids. My sister and chief bridesmaid, Faye, read the bidding prayers. It was lovely that we could be so involved in deciding on the ceremony, we also picked hymns and the music we signed the register to.
I wanted a sonnet as historically they are the most traditional form of love poetry, but didn’t want to pick one of Shakespeare’s as they can often be taken out of context when not read alongside the full collection- also we wanted to do something a bit more unusual! I discovered Pablo Neruda when searching the internet and the beauty of Sonnet xvii struck me immediately. The concluding lines ‘so close that your hand on my chest is my hand/so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep’ contained really moving images and made me cry when I first read it, so I knew this was the one. Again with the bible reading we wanted something a bit different, and the Song of Solomon seemed very powerful and passionate and not like a traditional religious reading at all."
"As an English teacher my love of literature was weaved into the day through the tables named after famous literary couples, books tied up with lace dotted about and Pride and Prejudice confetti scattered about.
We had cream lace chair sashes provided by a local company called Complete My Wedding As the chairs at Woodhill were so pretty we decided to eschew chair covers and just go with sashes and Lesley-Ann who owns the company spent ages tying each one perfectly. Woodhill itself is so beautifully decorated that we didn’t feel we needed to add too many decorations, but there were a number of ledges and mantelpieces that we added bits to, such as wooden initials painted in different shades of mauve, a pair of silver love birds, and a photo collage containing baby pictures of us both. For centrepieces we purchased silver candelabras from Marks and Spencer’s and placed these on mirror tiles which we covered with a range of different metallic and glass votives that we spent the year collecting. As the wedding breakfast was held in the Orangery, and it gets dark quickly in October, we wanted to have lots of twinkly candlelight to illuminate the room.
We also had a wooden wish tree with luggage labels for people to write messages on, and a personalised post box for cards that Rob’s sister Claire had also had at her wedding- she only needed to change the groom’s initial. A final touch was some gorgeous lace bunting, again purchased from Ebay, that we draped around mantelpieces and the grand staircase in the reception. The whole family got involved decorating the venue the day before and so the wedding really felt like a team effort!"
"We were extremely lucky to have our cake made by Judy, a family friend. We decided to not have a traditional fruit cake layer, but instead went for a carrot cake layer, a chocolate fudge cake layer, a lemon sponge layer and then another small carrot cake top layer that Rob and I got to take away and enjoy at our leisure (a great idea as I was too busy to taste any of the cake at the actual wedding!) The bottom layer of the cake was decorated with mauve icing in keeping with one of the colours of the day, and the other layers were each decorated in different ivory designs.
The cake was finished with a ribbon and glitzy brooch and we found the perfect cake topper of two ‘love ,in the correct colours, from Ebay to sit on top. The carrot cake was exceedingly tasty, and I heard good things about the other layers too."
"We used Peaches and Queen Stationery, a company who specialise in vintage and retro invitations. Mandy who runs the company has some amazing designs, but everything is also completely customisable and she works very closely with her clients to design the perfect stationery for their day. We went for her ‘Violet’ invite design which featured lace, birds and vintage fonts and was customised in a mauve colourway for us. She also designed the cutest RSVP cards that were tied to the invites with lace bows. We felt the invites really set the tone for the day and we received lots of compliments about them! Mandy also made our table name cards, which were on kraft cards and lace edged, which I placed in plain white frames, and separate seating plan cards. We placed each seating plan card into a pair of ornate multi-aperture photo frames that we purchased from Next.
To add some further decoration I glued on some foam roses with my glue gun, one of my favourite purchases from Hobbycraft. Each table was named after literary couples so we had Jane and Rochester, Darcy and Elizabeth and even Bella and Edward!"
The whole day was wonderful from beginning to end, having all our family and friends there celebrating with us was truly magical. A standout moment was Rob’s speech, he unexpectedly pulled out my favourite book, ‘Jane Eyre’, and read the passage were Rochester describes Jane as ‘my better self, my good angel’. It was so thoughtful and touching and sobs could be heard throughout the room.
Words of Wedded Wisdom…
“Firstly I would definitely recommend a Pinterest board to get all your ideas down- I found it really useful to take my Ipad to the florist, hair dresser etc and show them the boards I had created. Secondly, I would suggest being a bit savvy. As ours was a midweek wedding we got some good discounts from suppliers. I would also suggest shopping around, as I was amazed for example how much variance there is on prices for things like wedding cars. Use Facebook and ask people for recommendations to seek out more purse friendly options rather than going for the first things that pop up on the internet. Ebay is also a great source for bargain wedding bits. Lastly I would say relax and really enjoy yourself.
It is your day and the planning should be as much fun as possible. We never considered hiring a wedding planner, and even though we both work long hours, weekends and evenings were used effectively for planning, sorting and making things. Handing things over to other people to sort is also a tip - a big shout out to my mum who was really invaluable in dealing with a lot of the suppliers in the North East whilst we were down in Lancashire.
As we had full control over every aspect of the day we really felt like it was ‘ours’ and came out with the perfect day for us. There were lots of bits we made ourselves, but similarly we also knew our limitations and when to bring in the professionals - (I had a moment of madness when I was considering arranging our own flowers). And that’s the great thing about a wedding, it should truly reflect you as a couple, as well as being the happiest day of your life (ours ticked both those boxes.)"
“We are saving our honeymoon until the long summer holidays later this year, but got a mini-moon to Plas Rhianfa, the most wonderful chateau in Anglesey, as a wedding gift. It was fab to have a few days together after the wedding to just take everything in and we stayed in the bridal suite which was absolutely breath-taking.”
"If I could have changed one thing, I'd have been a bit less nervous! I was very worried about some of the moments where everyone would focus on me, such as walking down the aisle and the first dance. Even though I am a teacher, the thought of being the centre of attention did concern me quite a bit. However, on the day I didn’t feel scrutinised at all, and really these were just silly niggles I should not have been worried about. Also I would not have left sorting the wedding ring so late as that caused a bit of stress, but all in all the whole planning process was very enjoyable and I loved every minute of it.
We would also like to make a little mention about one of the hardest parts of the day. Rob’s sister, Jen, was diagnosed with terminal cancer shortly before the wedding and could not make the day. It meant there were many bittersweet moments, such as seeing her empty chair, and when we took family photos. She was mentioned in the speeches, and we took her some wedding cake, a favour and order of service the next day so she got to experience some of the event. Devastatingly, Jen has now passed away, but we like to think that she was there with us in spirit on the day, and the wedding gave Rob’s family a day of happiness amidst all the sadness of the last few months."
A sweet and lovely wedding, and one I hope has made you smile this morning.
We'll be back at lunch time with news of a little giveaway you won't want to miss out on if you are a bride looking for a headpiece.
Much love all, Annabel
Photographer – SDS Photography
Venue + Catering – Woodhill Hall, Northumerland
Wedding Dress – Elodie by Charlotte Balbier via YAP Bridal in Newcastle
Veil – YAP Bridal
Brides Shoes – Mimosa by Rachel Simpson
Groom – Moss Bros + hat from New Urban
Bridesmaids – chiffon gowns by Dessy (style 2890)
Florist – Lilly Rose Weddings
Cake – made by a friend
Transport – Brooklands Wedding Cars
Entertainment – The Purple Supper Band
Rings – Birmingham Jewellery Quarter
Stationery – Peaches and Queen Stationery
Hair Stylist – Rachel from Salon 21 in Newcastle
Makeup Artist – Paula at Perfection makeup
Favours – chocolate covered pretzels via Maple Molly's
Photobooth Hire – Boothalicious
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