By Rachel Harrison
Chris and Laura fell in love with their walled garden venue walking around it on an August evening and were blessed with some similarly balmy weather for their outdoor garden ceremony on the 28th May 2018. The garden in question belongs to Middleton Lodge in rural North Yorkshire, what a glorious setting! Indooors, the Fig House looks just incredible adorned with greenery and florals.
Melissa Beattie Photography captured their day in her signature fine art style and I think you’ll agree, the results are simply gorgeous. Thank you ever so much for sharing with us Melissa.
Our pair went for a natural and botanical style and the coral accents really work so beautifully to lift the look of the whole day, will you just look at the stunning peonies in Laura’s bouquet?! Not to mention the beautiful bridesmaids’ dresses adding a pop of colour.
I’m really loving the wooden signs draped in greenery as well as the nostalgic table names. There are lots of wonderful touches to take in so enjoy!
We didn’t want a theme to overwhelm the surroundings but for one that complimented the setting. My love of flowers lead to a botanical theme featuring natural materials, romantic calligraphy, and bright flowers with hedgerow foliage. It really did compliment the relaxed feeling that we wanted to create for our wedding.
The table names were themed from films that we both love, including quotes for guests to reminisce over. Chris is an 80’s movie buff, so titles such as Back to the Future and Ferris Bueller were a must.
The colour theme was to be coral, the plan was for the warm, bright colours to pop against the green foliage and bare brick walls of the garden. Coral peonies are among my favourite flowers and influenced the bridesmaids long flowing dresses. Chris has always suited blue, so it was decided that we would contrast the warm coral with cool navy for the groomsman and light blue for him.
After reading lots of blogs featuring weddings in Lancashire we visited ventured out on visits, which helped work out what was important to us, which was the scenery, food and somewhere for our guests to relax.
Attending a party after our engagement we were recommended Middleton Lodge, Richmond North Yorkshire, previously known for weddings in the beautiful Georgian House, it was actually the then partly built Kitchen Garden that caught my eye and became our wild card. After some deliberation and on a warm August evening we walked around the garden and knew that it was right for us. We just needed the weather!
The Fig House is surrounded by a walled garden designed by the Chelsea Flower Show winner Tom Stuart Smith. We opted for a ceremony in the garden as the sun was shining! Our reception was in the beautifully restored Fig House which stands on the remains of the house’s original Orangery. The styling of the Couch House Boutique Hotel at Middleton Lodge is the perfect balance of relaxed elegance, and was reflected in the Fig House, which we loved seeing come together. The thoughtful design and hard work by the owners and dedicated wedding co-ordinators were evident in the end and it was the best choice we could have made.
A special thanks to Anna and Chloe who organised our day perfectly!
This was the hardest decision for us. Chris especially loves music, and after attending many weddings with great bands the pressure was on to get it right. He found both acts for the day and night online after a lot of searching!
Tip: Book well ahead as it was the one thing our late planning restricted us with. Many were booked for the bank holiday.
In the end we opted for the romantic tones of Hannah Rockcliffe. She has a beautiful voice and is a very talented pianist. Most of our guests thought there was a recording playing until they saw her, she was that good. She certainly had guests crying! Her voice hugely complimented the setting.
In the evening we had the band ‘Friends of the Bride’. They are a rock/indie band who styled some of our own requests to their youthful enigmatic performance. They truly got everyone up and going and we had non stop compliments all night.
We had a big box of postcards where our guests could choose a design and leave us a note. It’s one of our favourite souvenirs from the day as their choices really reflected their personalities. The slightly drunk notes were especially funny.
We also had a Foosball and table tennis set to play with on the feature stone in the middle of the garden, which added some competitive fun whilst guests enjoyed their drinks.
Our favours were in memory of the loved ones who couldn’t be with us. My Nana was in Pendleside Hospice before she died so we bought sunflower pins from there as a donation. We accompanied these with a note for our guests to remember them by and we threw in a few retro sweets, which went down well. Passed relatives would have wanted us to enjoy ourselves as much as possible and they were definitely there in spirit!
I designed the stationery, used a handmade stamp made by Get Stamped and had the invites printed by Pocket Fold Invites who were fantastic to work with.
The leaf place names, wood signs and table plan were lovingly hand drawn by the talented Lauren Miller at Adorn Calligraphy in collaboration with my Dad who created the wood signs ready for decoration.
Our flower arrangements, bouquets and table dressing were all envisaged by Jane and her team from Wedding and Events Ltd who came highly recommended by the venue. I couldn’t have trusted anyone else to do it.
My own bouquet was mainly coral peonies with bright green ferns and green foliage. The peonies changed throughout the day opening up under the hot sun over the ceremony and closing up when it went cooler. The bridesmaids’ flowers were green and white reflecting our love of a British hedgerows in spring and contrasted beautifully against the bright coral colour dresses. The button holes were white roses with a hint of coral and looked extremely classy against a variety of outfits for the men and women.
With our budget Jane created the most heartfelt setting. It really exuded the laid back, freshly picked feeling that we wanted. After falling for coral peonies, I was warned after a delayed flower season that it might not be possible to have as many as I’d liked. Jane filled our tables with beautiful single flowers that made heros of each flower.
Each stem placed in a green or clear vase with tealights in between was gorgeous. We had so many compliments about how beautiful they were. Each peony, cornflower, and daisy shone that day. The milk churns used at either side of the aisle were especially exquisite.
My dress was from Emma Hartley Bridalwear in Colne, Lancashire and it is by Allure Bridal. I chose the store not only for its reputation and 20 years in the business, but I also know Rachel who works there through Chris. It was very special to have her there with my family and Chris’s mum to help choose my dress.
It was the most magical afternoon. After displaying many dresses my eyes were drawn to a simpler dress to the rest. The body was made of exquisite lace and jewels with a low back, and the skirt was layers of chiffon with volume to make me feel like a princess without adding weight that overwhelmed my petite frame. My plan was to do lots of dancing so the dress needed to allow me to move as well as look the part.
After trying on around 20 dresses… you only get to do it once! It was actually the first dress that caught my eye that I finally chose. The jewel incrusted veil and head dress finished off the whole look and I was in love.
Jewellery: I didn’t want anything to overpower the outfit but flatter the details on my dress. My pearl antique earrings were bought by Chris for a previous birthday, when I joked at the time that they would make the perfect wedding accessory, who knew years later that they really would be. My necklace had fresh water pearls and Swarovski crystals in it, purchased with my dress at Emma Hartley’s. The bracelet was a contemporary and simple piece by Thomas Sabo, a gift from my parents.
My Shoes: After days of searching online and endlessly getting frustrated by Pinterest posts that led nowhere, I finally bought three pairs of heels to try. The ones I wore on the day were simple, elegant and not too high, and best of all, they didn’t break the bank. The flats I opted for in the evening were a necessity, but still had a bridal feel to them. Neither are well known brands but from boutiques, and I can’t tell you how many compliments I had, plus my feet were still intact by the end of the day.
My bridesmaids and I had our hair done by the lovely Deborah Chalmers from Love Hair & Beauty Boutique. Deborah couldn’t have been more patient, composed and helpful. I would highly recommend her. She has a salon in Ripon in which I could visit and try out my hairstyle which was massively helpful, especially with me living far away from the venue. Her attitude gives you massive confidence that she is in complete control and will make you feel and look your best for your special day. Our hairstyles lasted all day even though it was very hot, and we danced a lot!
My makeup was done by my cousin Sarah. I was fine about doing my own, but she insisted and happens to have a passion for make-up. We had a couple of trials before the day and had lots of giggles along the way. It was very special to spend this time with her whilst the rest of our guests got ready, she really helped me keep calm throughout.
Chris’ suit was from Slaters menswear in Manchester. Personally assisted by store manager Alan Meredith, Chris chose a Harry Brown Lamb Heritage wool blend 3-piece suit. Like me he also had an easy and relaxed experience by getting a suit that not only fit him perfectly, but the light blue colour couldn’t have suited him more and worked well with the coral colour scheme.
Being a shoe man, he proudly wore his Jeffery West Ork O’Toole wing tip brogues, named after the infamous Peter O’Toole.
The groomsmen’s suits were their own and looked great alongside Chris’.
Our photographer was the very talented Melissa Beattie. Melissa was the wedding photographer for my maid of honour Jenny Jones who I was a bridesmaid for the year before. Jenny being a photographer herself massively recommended Melissa over anyone else and as Jenny would be busy being my maid of honour, Melissa was the easy choice.
I was recommended many photographers by the venue, had been reading wedding blogs and followed many on Instagram as I love photography, but after seeing Jenny’s photos and discussing it with Jenny, Melissa seemed the obvious choice for the venue.
Her fine art style, understanding of light and ability to reflect romance won me over and I knew she would suit our venue perfectly. Most of our photos are in the moment, extremely natural and relaxed, exactly what we wanted. Those taken in the garden late in the day were very special as they gave us time to be apart from the crowd and to really feel the atmosphere of the evening together.
Filming the day was especially important to me, I know how fast these occasions go and really wanted to look back on it in years to come. James Stratford was recommended by a new colleague of mine, Tom Wright who also happens to be a wedding photographer had previously worked with James.
His style like Melissa’s, is natural, relaxed and timeless. Because of the late booking and with us both having busy schedules we met for the first time on the day of our wedding. Despite this he stepped straight into gear and was respectful and courteous throughout. To say he had never seen the venue before and had to find us at Natural Retreats in the morning, he got into the swing of things quickly and captured the whole day beautifully. While you are likely to find him filming weddings in Lake Garda, the sunshine in North Yorkshire that day luckily made us all feel very Mediterranean.
The Bridesmaid dresses were from Mix Bridal, an online service, which was a bit of a risk, but after successfully ordering some for my maid of honour’s wedding the year before, we went with them again and they were beautiful. By paying a bit extra you can have them made to measure and with a few minor adjustments, especially for Jenny who was to be five months pregnant on the day, they turned out perfectly.
The next day we went on a minimoon exploring Richmond and Darlington area. It was so lovely to explore North Yorkshire and enjoy the area we had chosen for our special day. We enjoyed a spa break at Rockcliffe Hall Hotel, followed by a romantic glamping experience in a cute shepherd’s hut with hot tub to enjoy the stars.
Four weeks later we jetted off to the beautiful Caribbean island of Barbados for our honeymoon. Again, we were surrounded by stunning botanical gardens but this time of the exotic variety including orchids, hummingbirds and the odd monkey. The beaches are to die for and we hired a car to enjoy many of them. Snorkelling in the warm waters was a dream and doing it alongside turtles is an experience we won’t forget. The people of Barbados are of course what adds to its identity; warm, friendly and funny, you are guaranteed to have a good time.
The surprise on our guests faces when we entered the reception to the Superman theme was priceless. Adding to the film theme we thought a grand score as an entrance piece was appropriate for us and turned out to be very funny.
The speeches: The men did us proud. Known for his acting and love for dressing up as a character, Chris wearing a very ginger beard for his speech had everyone laughing.
A special moment: Madly dancing with my brother who lives in Canada. We hadn’t seen him for over six months, but it felt like only seconds since we’d last seen each other.
Walking through the garden with my Dad in arm and my bridesmaid in tow is a stand out memory for me. We were surrounded by newly bloomed spring flowers and greeted by the beautiful tones of Hannah Rockcliffe singing “Make you Feel my Love” by Adele. When Chris and I met each other’s gaze, emotions were running high. We were finally there, it was our moment in that beautiful walled garden surrounded by those we hold dear. The birds were in full song, the sun was shining down on us and most importantly we didn’t mess up!
Chris’, and now our niece Lauren was our ring bearer. After seeing her grow into a beautiful and talented young woman it meant so much to us that she presented our rings in our ceremony stored in a handmade wooden box chosen by Chris.
Chris’s special moment: Arriving at the venue, walking into the garden and realising just how special a setting it was. Then seeing me of course! The moment when you see each other is overwhelming. I think at that point we felt massive relief that the day had come together.
Our special moment: Our first dance to ‘More than a woman’ by the Bee Gees. An alternative choice but we loved dancing away
I would say don’t think that you need two years to organise you perfect day. When you have less time, you focus on what matters. As my Dad said, try and get a few things really right and the rest will follow or not matter on the day if they aren’t perfect.
Make it your own. There is so much out there in terms of inspiration. What really counts is doing it exactly how you want it and don’t let anyone make you sway from your vision. It’s not their day, it’s yours!
Don’t feel pressure to make it bigger and better than other couples, you can easily be intimidated. Write down what’s important to you and how you both want to feel on the day. We wanted ours to be relaxed, intimate and just wanted to have a great celebration without too many formalities. After attending so many weddings we knew what was right for us.
The nerves are real! Try to get as much done as possible before the final week so you can use this time to get into the right frame of mind. We had to work right up to the day but getting everything done before that last week meant most of the pressure was off. Also try to get a good night’s rest the night before if possible.
Trust your suppliers. Choose them wisely and feed off their experience. They will make your day a lot less stressful and let you both enjoy what really matters. If anything goes wrong they are there to help and support you and your guests, which makes all the difference.
We are blessed to have such supportive friends and family. Build your day and get their opinion, it really did help us when making those crucial decisions.
Go for a menu tasting. It really does help make that crucial decision.
Everyone says it but make sure you try and stop to take in the day and never dwell on what’s gone wrong.
Melissa Beattie Photography
Deborah Chalmers from Love Hair & Beauty Boutique
Jane at Wedding & Events Floral Design
Slaters Menswear, Manchester
Pocket Fold Invites
Chris and Laura, what a beautiful wedding you created, thank you for sharing the coral hued goodness with us!
For even more inspiration you can find lots of coral wedding ideas on our pages too. Rachel x
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