Vivienne Westwood Wedding Glamour at Askham Hall, The Lake District

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Caroline and Alisdair’s beautiful and heartfelt wedding was held on 8th July 2023 at Askham Hall, located within the heart of the breathtakingly beautiful English Lake District.

The bride, an actress born in the USA, had long wanted to wear a Vivienne Westwood gown whilst her software and data engineer husband donned the family tartan.

I love that this sweet wedding wove so many personal and heartfelt details throughout the day – from Caroline’s veil embroidered with a horse to reflect her childhood in professional showjumping, to handkerchiefs embroidered with Texas Bluebonnets and English Bluebells, to the location of the ceremony which meant a great deal to the couple’s family, everything had an extra special layer of depth and meaning and honoured the bride and groom’s commitment to living a sustainable lifestyle.

Photographer Melissa Beattie has captured the day most beautifully and I hope you enjoy these images as much as we have. Words below are from the bride herself.

Bride in a Vivienne Westwood wedding dress being hugged from behind by her groom in a red tartan kilt. Melissa Beattie Photography.

Venue & Location

I constantly am taking inspiration from nature, art, film, experiences and places. There was a lot of meaning behind even the smallest of things that day. For example, I commissioned Cressida Jamieson to embroider handkerchiefs as a surprise to give to Al and our wedding party.

I had followed Cressida for years on Instagram and loved her beautiful work. I am so thankful I got to work with her on this special project. The handkerchiefs had Bluebonnets – the state flower of Texas, where I am from – and Bluebells, a favourite flower that was in bloom where Al proposed, along with our initials. The blue in the handkerchiefs also worked as my ‘something blue’

The Dress

I wore a Vivienne Westwood dress. For part of the reception I wore my mother’s wedding dress. It meant a lot to both of us for me to include it in the day. Alisdair wore his family tartan kilt (he is a Munro through his grandmother). 

I always knew that I wanted to have a Vivienne Westwood dress; timeless, romantic, exceptional quality from a British Icon and punk rock queen. I went to the VW boutique on Davies Street and worked with the wonderful staff there. They were always so wonderful, helpful and supportive throughout the process. Definitely recommend them to anyone. 

Back shot of a bride sat down having her hair done. She wears a Vivienne Westwood wedding dress, has long dark hair and long pearl earrings.

Bride with long dark hair standing next to a window, wearing a Vivienne Westwood wedding dress and a long, single tier wedding veil.

Bridal Beauty & Accessories

I wore my mom’s diamond tennis bracelet that she handed down to me. I always admired it growing up and she very kindly gifted it to me a few years back. I always knew I wanted to wear it on the day. The only other jewellery I wore were my earrings from Completed Works and my wedding band. My shoes were Manolo Blahnik.

Manolo Blahnik wedding mules in white.

Rhian Truman is an incredible skincare expert based in Notthing Hill, that was highly recommended to me by my friend Freddie, who is also an incredible facialist and founder of Saent Skin. Rhian is truly magical, she is so warm and nurturing.

I was frequently seeing her for facials and abdominal massages in the lead up to the wedding and oftentimes I was so happy and relaxed I would fall asleep during the treatment.

It honestly felt like therapy to go see her and take that time to just be quiet and relax – a safe space where no one could ask me questions about the wedding! Couldn’t recommend her more – although, no, please don’t steal her availability away from me – you can’t have her.

Traditional handkerchief embroidered with the bride and groom's initials and blue flowers native to the bride and groom's place of birth.

I did my own make-up. I love all things beauty and skincare and usually enjoy the process but I hate being rushed and definitely underestimated how hectic wedding mornings can be!

You feel responsible for making sure everyone and everything is running smoothly and I should have blocked it all out and just enjoyed the time alone to listen to music and zen out  (which I normally do at home). My mother in law found Salon Rouge in Penrith to do hair for a few of us.

Bride in a Vivienne Westwood wedding dress being flanked by her two bridesmaids in black dresses.

Everyone drove and/or carpooled together as a bus/van hire would not have made it down the track at the church in Alston. We hired a Jaguar MK II as the bridal car through Premier Carriage Wedding Cars.  

Jaguar MK II traditional wedding car.

The Bridesmaids

The only request I had for my bridesmaids was to wear black. They ran styles by me but I told them to choose whatever they felt comfortable and happy in. Weddings can be so expensive (and wasteful) and I wanted them to wear/buy something that they could repurpose and wear for other occasions in their life.

Andrea got hers from Reformation and Leah got hers from ASOS

Bride in Vivienne Westwood wedding dress & bridesmaids in black dresses, each carrying elegant summer bouquets. Flowergirl carries a basket of confetti and a bouquet of chamomile.

Bridea and her bridesmaids wearing black dresses walking into the church. The bridemaids hold hands behind the bride's back.

My parents have been married for 43 years and their marriage has been a huge example to us, the ups and downs and natural ebbs/flows of a relationship and how you learn to fall in love with the same person throughout your life. Relationships are not easy things, life is really hard sometimes and you have to put in the time and care into your relationship and marriage. 

Groom in a red tartan kilt holding hands with his bride in a Vivienne Westwood dress in church.

The Ceremony


Our ceremony took place at Kirkhaugh Church just outside of Alston. Alisdair’s family has been a part of this church for generations and it is a very important and sacred place to him. He proposed to me at the riverbank behind the church after a picnic.

My dad walked me down the aisle. I am incredibly close with my parents (my best friends and favourite people), couldn’t have done the day without them. We entered the church to ‘I Vow to Thee, My Country’ I have loved this song since I was a young teenager and heard it in a movie trailer for the 1995 Jane Austen film, ‘Persuasion’.

Father of the bride in a slate blue suit with the bride wearing a Vivienne Westwood dress.

The vicar of Kirkhaugh, Mark Nash-Williams was due to be our vicar and we had met with him several times. However he had to have a scheduled surgery, so his lovely wife Bar Nash-Williams (who is also a priest) ended up officiating the ceremony. They are both such lovely people. Bar gave us a beautiful and meaningful wedding ceremony.

We discussed with then both, the importance of Kirkhaugh, somewhere that has meant so much to Alisdair and his family, and now, a significant place for us as a couple. We also discussed how nature/climate change is something that we think a lot about and how we strive towards sustainability and taking care of mother earth.

Bride and groom in church. Groom in red tartan kilt, bride in long veil & Vivienne Westwood dress.

My best friend Ayla read the ‘Song of Solomon 2:10-13’ and my maid of honour Leah read, ‘Bright Star’ by John Keats. Susie Cowie illustrated our readings for us. I have always loved John Keats and adored the 2009 film ‘Bright Star’ by Jane Campion (which I found out during the wedding planning process that Susie actually created the embroidered silk pillow that the character Fanny creates for John). The Song of Solomon reading is just so beautiful, it reminds me of Shakespeare.

My wedding band was Alisdair’s grandmother’s wedding ring, which is incredibly special. We added dark blue sapphires, set in a star design, around the band. September (sapphire birthstone) is the month we met and fell in love and also Al’s birthday month.

I always knew I wanted to incorporate them into my wedding band. We had ‘Bright Star’ by John Keats read at our ceremony so I loved the idea of having that included in the band. Bespoke Goldsmith resized the band and added the star design/sapphires.

They also made Al’s wedding band. A fun thing that happened the week before the wedding was that my beautiful engagement ring got accidentally thrown away in the trash – classic! It was a family heirloom that was given to me, so needless to say it was a devastating and crushing blow, but Alisdair and his mom were so kind and supportive about it. We never did end up retrieving it.

After the wedding, we discovered The Antique Ring Boutique and found a beautiful five-stone ring, like my previous ring, which I love and now guard with my life! As my mother in law says, ‘nobody has died, it’s not the end of the world.’

Photography

Our photographer was Melissa Beattie. I found her lovely work searching for photographers in Cumbria. We were so lucky to work with her.

From the beginning and throughout the entire process she was so easy-going, calm and just a joy to work with.

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Melissa spent time getting to know us and really listened to what was important to us. So many people commented how amazing she was – super kind and interesting to chat to but also really low-key in getting photographs.

I felt super rushed the morning of the wedding trying to organise everyone and didn’t have the time I wanted to get ready and felt like my make up wasn’t necessarily the best it could have been but Melissa managed to capture some beautiful moments and give us pictures that we absolutely love and cherish. She is a dream to work with!

photographers we love
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With the help of her mum, our niece chose her dress from JJ’s House. She loves all things Princess and sparkles and her dress incorporated both – she was the sweetest flower girl! Our nephew wore a blue suit from M&S, to match our best man.

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An Embroidered Wedding Veil

Susie Cowie is a brilliant artist who I have loved and followed for years. I reached out to her after I got engaged to brainstorm a way to incorporate her work into our day. She recommended a simple veil from Amazon, that she then embroidered with a beautiful horse.

I am horse girl – I grew up riding and show jumping competitively for all of my teenage years. It is such a big part of who I am and having that small, special and personal touch meant so much to me. 

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How They Met

I was living in Los Angeles and had been accepted in a summer Shakespeare program at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. One of my girlfriend’s in LA is British and had connected me to her childhood best friend – she had come to visit LA a few years prior and told me if I ever come to London to give her a shout.

During my training at RADA we got together a few times and after graduation she invited me out one night to a music gig with her boyfriend and his friends. That day I had tried everything to get out of going because I was living at a horrendous Airbnb and was sleeping really terribly. She never gave me an out so I dragged myself out that night and it turned out that one of her boyfriend’s friends was Al. 

We had been dating and living together for over three years when Al proposed. We were engaged for less than a year before the wedding took place.

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Alisdair went to Kilts4All (an independent and family run business in London) with his old family tartan kilt to have it altered. His previous kilt wasn’t great quality and had seen better days so they created a custom kilt for him using his Munro tartan, alongside a jacket, sporran, kilt socks and sgain-dubh.

He wore his own boats that he had made ages ago and that he wore on our first date. Al is very selective about what he buys and spends a lot of time researching the quality and craftsmanship as he wants things to last him a lifetime.

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 For part of the reception I wore my mother’s wedding dress. It meant a lot to both of us for me to include it in the day. 

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The Reception


Along with the string/fairy lights from Askham Hall, I wanted the focus to be on the beautiful flowers and candles. Intimate and romantic. The beautiful outdoor scenery of Askham Hall and the nature of Cumbria was the star of the show.

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We provided fudge from the Toffee Shop in Penrith as gifts/favours for our guests. A family favourite!

Susie Cowie illustrated our name place cards for the tables and also did a beautiful illustration for our Order of Service – which included sweetpeas, cosmos, stars and of course, horses!

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Askham Hall provided lights in the wedding barn and I hired Hurricane Cylinders and Vintage Brass Candlestick holders through Narrative Hire/Tebbey and Co (instagram: narrativehire).

The candles were from Glode Candle Club, a seasonal subscription candle club that I am a member of, and came from their winter 22’ collection. I ordered five batches of them at the time because I loved the colours and knew I wanted to use them at the wedding reception.

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Gloria Studio was our florist and Kasia and Amaia could not have been more lovely! They are based out of London but worked with their suppliers to deliver to Askham Hall and the rest of the flowers they brought with them on the train up to Cumbria.

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I really love flowers and gardening is one of my favourite pastimes, so I was very specific about what I wanted. Peonies are my favourite flower so that was the main request. Cornflowers, Scabiosa (Pincushion), Sweetpeas, Dahlias and Chamomile are all favourites that we incorporated. I have dahlias, peonies, scabiosa, sweetpeas and cornflowers that I plant/grow in my garden at home and it felt important to have those be a part of the day.

Kasia and Amaia were so wonderful to work with and gave me the flowers of my dreams! Couldn’t recommend them enough.

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Askham Hall provided all of the catering with the exception of the wedding cake. Melissa Spencer of Bramble & Wild Bakery did our cake – a four-tiered gluten free cake with three different flavours: lemon and poppyseed, coffee and walnut, and white chocolate and passionfruit.

It was so delicious – I still dream of it! I wanted a simple but classic design. She created a beautiful white, tiered cake and I requested fresh flowers for the design. Gloria Studio provided her flowers to create a beautiful addition.

4 tier wedding cake - large tall tiers, decorated with summer peonies.

We also hired a piper to surprise the guests – he piped us out of the church after our vows and piped us into the wedding barn at Askham Hall. Really beautiful  – all of the guests loved him! 

Scottish piper at a wedding.

Evening & Dancing

We had a mutual friend who is a DJ do the music for the evening and had a photobooth for guests to use. Our first dance was to ‘Wild Horses’ by The Sundays. That song has been a favourite of mine since I was a teenager and heard it in the Prom Episode of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ (my all-time favourite tv series). Also, again, I am a horse girl. So it was very fitting for us. “Wild horses couldn’t drag me away” – what a powerful way of saying I am here for you to someone.      

As everyone tells you, the day goes by quickly and there is so much stimulation and activity, it can kind of become a blur. Honestly just having my family and closest, best friends there meant everything to me and to us. We were surrounded by so much love and support. It was such a great group of people, from all over the US and UK and everyone had such great energy and got along so well.

Surrounded by the beautiful countryside and all of our personal touches that held meaning to us. Our puppy, Mina (a shiba inu), was also a part of the day (fitting as she is the baby of the family!) – our close friend Carlie held her during the wedding ceremony and Gloria Studio even made her a beautiful pink bow with fresh flowers that she wore on her harness to celebrate mummy and daddy’s marriage.

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Words of Wedded Wisdom

Weddings can very quickly get overwhelming and hectic. The most important thing is that you have found someone in a very crazy world and that you two have decided to commit to each other and be partners on this wild ride we call life. Take time to enjoy the process, think about the things that are meaningful and significant to you both and incorporate it into your day. You want things to ‘feel’ like you. Enjoy celebrating with your loved ones – it is so rare everyone can all get  together these days.

Planning a wedding was overwhelming at times, there are so many details you don’t even think about. I would recommend finding a ritual that helps you decompress and enjoy the process.

As special and beautiful as a wedding is, it’s only one day, of the rest of your lives. Focus on the things that really count! Also, try not to throw away your engagement ring a week before the ceremony. 

I wish I had gotten more rest/sleep in the week leading up to the wedding. You have so much going on with last minute details and we had family/friends travelling in from the states so we were running around playing host! Also, the engagement ring saga happened which was stressful and sad. I wish I had taken more time to slow down during the weekend and spend a bit more time catching up with my friends. C’est la vie!  

   

Askham Hall

Askham Hall

We recommend this beautiful Lake District Wedding Venue

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The below suppliers and venues featured in this article are part of the Love My Dress Wedding Directory.

Additional Credits

The below suppliers and venues are featured in this article, but are not part of the Love My Dress Wedding Directory.

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Groom's Kilt
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Annabel

Annabel View all Annabel's articles

Founder of Love My Dress. Passionate Podcaster and Editor. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters and menagerie of furry hounds. She loves photography, meditation, walking, being outdoors and star gazing. She is fierce when it comes to championing talent within the wedding industry and when she's not working on Love My Dress, she supports her husband Philip in the running of the family's sustainable flower farm and floral design business, Moonwind Flowers. In 2013, she became a published author.

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