HOME Manchester Wedding
Creative and Colourful City-Centre Wedding
Katherine and José
A very warm welcome to WWW readers Katherine and José today, I am so excited to be sharing their HOME wedding in Manchester with you, which was held on the 21st September 2019. The location was important to them as they live in Manchester, so after tying the knot at St. Ann’s Church they headed to their reception on foot, even practising their first dance on their way there, such fun! They then partied the night away with lots of dancing thanks to live music from their band. I love the thoughtful touches they added such as the ‘design your own bride and groom’ station, temporary tattoos, Harry Potter quotes on their favours and the bake off. Amazing. I can’t believe they kept their budget within £11,000 too, wow.
I have to say just how much I love the colourful flowers, Katherine’s bouquet was just gorgeous. I also love her gown, complete with a dip hem teamed with maroon sandals, swoon. José was very dapper in a teal suit and floral shirt, didn’t they both look just stunning? I am over the moon that WWW helped them to plan their day, it has put a big smile on my face today, thanks guys!
Kate McCarthy Photography has sent over these wonderful images and I cannot thank her enough for doing so. Enjoy it all folks.
José designed and bought the engagement ring in the Dominican Republic, his home country, in December 2016 – three months before the proposal. After returning to Manchester, Jose had to wait for the perfect time to decorate the flat – something that proved somewhat difficult because we were coming and going constantly and if he was in, I wasn’t away for enough of a long time. On 4th March 2017, one of my best friends, invited me to have lunch with her for her birthday which gave José enough time to decorate the flat with pictures documenting our 10-year relationship and candles leading me from the entrance to the living room. The original plan for the day was that I would have lunch with my friend, come home and we would then go out for a meal and a movie – José thought that the dinner and movie would be a good celebration date after the proposal. However, my lunch ran long and I called José to ask him if he wanted to meet me at the restaurant rather than me coming home and leaving straight away – without a good reason for me to come back, José agreed. We had a really nice date, though José tells me that he can’t remember much of it because he was thinking how the proposal would go.
On our walk back to the flat after the movie, José told me that he had a surprise in the flat and that he needed me to wait outside our door until he told me to come in. We got to the flat, José went in (I now know that he went in to light all the candles and put on a special playlist), and after a few minutes he texted me to come in. José waited upstairs whilst I entered the flat…the rest is a little bit of a blur – there was laughter, tears, words, a beautiful ring and eventually a ‘yes’.
We sat down at the very beginning of the planning process and wrote the top three things that mattered to us about our wedding. We did it independently so that then we could come together and compare, and compromise if necessary, and it helped us focus when making decisions throughout wedding planning. We had both written that we wanted a venue big enough to have everyone we wanted to invite, that the people were more important than the venue/location/date. José had put live music on his list and I had put that I wanted to drink and dance the night away. We had both put that I needed to feel pretty! I can easily feel anxious or self-conscious and have felt uncomfortable at other people’s weddings or events so we both know that it can ruin our entire experience of something if I get in a funk. Such a diva! We also both wanted the wedding to be in Manchester; it was the place we had made our home as a couple, where the majority of our friends live, has lots of options for accommodation and easy public transport access.
The Planning Process
It wasn’t easy. We had our heart set on a venue near our flat and had started to budget and plan to get married there the following year. However, when José went to their open day event they announced that they were increasing their hire price by 400%. So that put it way outside of our budget. We had to start again, but I was away on a theatre tour for several months so plans got put on hold.
Then we searched several venues around Manchester but just couldn’t find anywhere that justified the price or didn’t compromise one of our important ‘top three’. Until we found a winter wedding deal at a city centre venue – if we could put the wedding together in three months then we’d get a bargain and an amazing space. We were literally about to put down the deposit, when we remembered that we should check that José’s family had the means to travel to the UK within three months…they didn’t. Travel visas, money etc…so back to the drawing board. I got a theatre job booked in which would take me away from the UK from Sept 2018 – April 2019 and I was firm that I wanted it all planned before I went away. So we started looking outside of traditional spaces and just thinking about spaces for hire around Manchester City centre.
I contacted HOME because I knew that they had a conference space on their second floor. As luck would have it, they were just thinking about branching into weddings and would be happy to give us a tour and discuss them being our wedding venue. They were budget-friendly, offered catering and drinks packages. Perfect.
Also, one sunny day, we wandered into St Anns Church and got chatting to the rector who introduced us to the reverend Nigel. After talking with him we found out that we could get married in St Anns because our old flat was within their diocese so we were eligible. We were thrilled, as our families are both religious and I grew up Catholic so it meant a lot to have a religious element to our wedding but also it provided a large venue we could invite everyone we wanted to, to see us get married. It also felt poignant that St Anns is literally the cartographical centre of Manchester – you can’t really get any more city-centre than that!
After finding our venue and setting the date, the big-ticket items began to slot into place; quickly choosing our photographer, our band, our florists and deciding to spend a bit extra on a wedding co-ordinator who could help liaise and set-up on the day in order to relieve pressure off ourselves and our family members. Stef at Alternative Weddings Mcr proved to be invaluable and guided us towards extra props for our décor, flower wholesalers for our tables, and prompting us if we had forgotten anything in our planning.
We had wanted to do the wedding as cheaply as possible, without compromising our priorities. We were also aware that people were spending considerable amount of time, money and effort to attend our wedding and we didn’t want them to go away underwhelmed, thirsty or hungry. We spent around £11,000 in total and the things which cost the most were the highlights of our day. We can’t imagine having done it any differently.
The Readings & Music
We wanted to ensure that our wedding service reflected both of us, the joining together of both of our families, and therefore we wanted our readings to be in both English and Spanish. As it was a Church of England service we needed to have one bible reading and, after a short search, we settled on St Paul’s letter to the Colossians 3.12-17 because it reflected the qualities of marriage which we wanted to focus on; compassion, kindness, humility and patience. This was read by our close friends Lucy and Sam, as luckily Sam speaks fluent Spanish.
Our second reading was All I ever really needed to know I learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum, which felt perfect. José and I can be big kids, and we wanted that simple joy and love to be reflected in our non-religious reading. This was read in English by my close friend Louise (who is also a primary school teacher) and in Spanish by José’s mum Guillermina.
It is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go
out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.
Music – Jose and I were very lucky because St Ann’s Church has a brilliant concert-level pianist/organist, Simon, that could play anything we wanted. We decided to have the organ for the hymns during the ceremony and have solo piano for the entrance music, the signing of the register and the exit music. For the piano music, we agreed which songs we would want and Jose made piano arrangements for all of them, which Simon played beautifully. I walked in to It had to be you by Isham Jones (from When Harry met Sally); the guests listened to Arabesques no. 1 by Claude Debussy, Your Song by Elton John and Vals de Santo Domingo by Bullumba Landestoy; we exited as husband and wife to You’ve got a friend in me by Randy Newman.
The hymns, accompanied by the organ, were ‘Be still, for the presence of the Lord’, ‘Lord of all hopefulness’ and ‘Give me Joy in my heart’.
We had a pre-wedding celebration the night before at a city-centre pub (The Wharf) where we were able to spend time with friends and family who had travelled from further afield, and could celebrate prematurely with those guests who were only attending the ceremony. It was great fun, and definitely helped counteract the feeling that you haven’t spent enough time with people on the actual wedding day.
For the ceremony, St Anns Church is a beautiful Grade II listed building and didn’t require much in the way of decoration. With simple pew ends, and one floral pedestal, the natural beauty of the building shone.
For our reception, the event space at HOME is amazing; floor-to-ceiling windows, fairy lights, different seating spaces, outside terrace, bar area, and child-friendly. It felt like the perfect space for José and I to celebrate our wedding, as we’ve made Manchester our ‘home’. We both regularly visit HOME for the cinema or theatre, it’s a vibrant cultural space which captures both of our interests and passions. We were also lucky with the Manchester weather because the sun uncharacteristically shone and we were able to use the outside terrace all night long.
Your Outfits & Accessories
Kat – I went wedding dress shopping at a discount store with my mum, sister and niece a couple of months after we got engaged. Although I found that mermaid style gowns suited my figure and was sorely tempted, I felt a bit like I was playing ‘dress-up’ so resisted buying anything.
Then, in autumn 2017, a friend pointed out that a quirky bridal wear shop in Manchester was having a sample sale and it may be worth a browse as they have alternative styles and shapes. So, I booked an appointment, and managed to wrangle my mum, sister, niece and friend Heather to come along with me to The Case of the Curious Bride. I scoped out their website beforehand but was genuinely surprised by how gorgeous, alternative yet traditional their dresses were. The staff were amazing and helped talk through the different dresses I liked within the sample sale. As soon as I tried on ‘Summer’ by Katya Katya, I felt at home. I felt comfortable yet pretty, I felt like I could dance, it felt like a special occasion and like nothing I would ever wear on stage. Everyone loved it and, despite not having a wedding date set or a venue chosen at the time, my mum bought it for me and kindly stored it at her house otherwise I would’ve been trying it on all the time!
As it was a sample size, and I do rather a lot of exercise, my body did change a bit over the 18 months before the wedding and the dress needed to be altered slightly. The lovely seamstress at Alterations Boutique Manchester made it fit perfectly.
I didn’t want a veil because I have a tiny head so I felt like it would drown me, I figured it would get in the way of dancing and celebrating, and neither my sister nor mum wore one at their weddings. The hairpiece I wore was a panic purchase the day before the wedding from a high street shop.
As the dress’ high-low hem highlighted my footwear I spent a long time trawling the internet for ideas, and got it fixed in my head that I’d like them to be maroon, like our autumnal colour-scheme and so that they wouldn’t be ‘wedding-y’. When I saw the Ted Baker platform sandals, I was sold. The earrings were from Etsy because I wanted something which featured the Manchester bee but was more glamorous or special than my usual jewellery.
José – José went shopping for a suit with his sister, Sarah, and one of his best friends, Mike. They hit the winter sales, going to Ted Baker first as recommended by Mike. There, José found a dark teal three-piece suit but decided to continue shopping to see what else they could find. However, no other suit could come close to the one from Ted Baker. Before buying the suit, José decided to try it on again to confirm his first reaction and, as a laugh, decided to also put on a flowery shirt (not his typical-style). He ended up getting the suit and the shirt because it went really well with the suit. Ted Baker delivered on a stunning lining and a great fit. José finished his look with shoes he had bought for a previous wedding, the watch his mom got him for his PhD graduation and a tie he bought for an interview.
Instagram and wedding blogs like WWW were both a blessing and a curse when it came to picking a wedding make-up artist. I knew I wanted my hair and make-up done because I figure, if all eyes are going to be on you, and you want to feel like your best possible self, and want to look at your photos and not cringe at your badly drawn eyeliner, it’s money well-spent. But I just wasn’t sure what style, or how to choose someone, all the pictures look so good!
However, I chose Rebecca after seeing her work featured on our photographer Kate’s website. I liked her minimalist style and I loved that Rebecca’s website included blog articles about ‘how to pick your wedding stylist’. Luckily, it turned out she lived half a mile away from my house, was super friendly and relaxed, and wasn’t deterred from my idea to have an up-do even though I had a very short bob at the time. I found the trial invaluable because it made me realise that I wanted a heavier make-up look than I had originally thought and so, on the day, was able to have a bolder eye and false lashes to feel like a glam version of myself. The miracle she worked on my hair – that woman has magic in her hands! It looked like I had long hair or a multitude of extensions but instead it was all her wizardry on my short bob.
She also did my sister’s hair and make-up to a similar brief as mine, but a slightly looser boho vibe to the up-do.
There are so many beautiful, talented florists in Manchester that we were spoilt for choice. And we honestly didn’t have any strong feelings or vision when it came to flowers. I found browsing Pinterest and WWW a godsend for clarifying what I wanted which was greenery, lots of different textures, jewel-tone colours, and not too big. We went for meetings with a couple of florists, but really liked the atmosphere at Frog and, to be honest, were a little seduced by the beautiful cherry blossom tree outside their front door.
We only wanted bouquets for me and my sister, buttonholes for the groomsmen plus my dad, and pew ends. For the pew ends we created paper cones out of play script to represent me, and sheet music which was a piece composed by José dedicated to his aunt. I was surprised by how vibrant and beautiful the flowers were, and what a pop of colour they added to the celebration.
We created the table-centres for the reception ourselves with the help of our wedding co-ordinator Stef, buying the flowers from a nearby wholesalers and they included a flower called Veronica as that was my grandma’s name.
Seeing as Jose picked his sister to be his best woman, he didn’t feel obligated to have an all-male groomsmen. He wanted to include some members of his family (Claudia) and Kat’s family (Paul and Jack) as well as close friends (Amy, Mike, Pablo and Rick). The groomsmen became a symbol of our family’s union and our lives as a couple. Jose told them that there wasn’t a specific dress code but that he would provide buttonholes for all the groomsmen so they needed an outfit that allowed them to wear the buttonhole.
Jose gave Sarah £100 and sent her the colour scheme for her to choose her outfit. Sarah suggested that she could wear a jumpsuit and jacket, to mimic a man’s suit, and Jose agreed – a nice mixture of traditional and contemporary. This proved to be more difficult than imagined, but luckily, Jose’s mom found one in the Dominican Republic a few of weeks before the wedding.
I just had my older sister Fran as my bridesmaid, to mirror José’s sister as his best man, and my niece and José’s goddaughter as flower girls. I didn’t want to prescribe or pick out an outfit for Fran, as she didn’t need to match anybody or anything in particular. I wanted her to feel comfortable yet attractive. So I gave her £100 and the colour-scheme as a guide, plus the offer of going shopping with her whenever she wanted to, but also that I also trusted her to pick it out herself.
In the end, she found the gorgeous maroon dress (it matched my shoes!) in House of Fraser and it was the right mix of quirky, traditional and even had a bit of a similar lace bodice to my dress.
In an effort to save money, and celebrate our many talented friends, we stole an idea from another friend’s wedding to have a Bake Off wedding table. We asked all guests if they would like to bake, then confirm what they were baking just beforehand so we could write the cards and allergy information, and then we held voting on the night. We made little trophy’s for the two categories ‘Best Looking’ and ‘Best Tasting’.
Our friends and family out-did themselves and the bakes were soo good. I have a wonderful memory of my friend Josh standing in the dance floor shouting ‘I am so bloated! So much cake!’
I had stalked Kate McCarthy on Instagram for a while, and then saw her at the Indie Wedding Fair at Victoria Baths, Manchester. I fell in love with her style, her images, her vibe and mostly, her. Your photographer is going to spend a large proportion of your day with you, as much as your close family, so you want it to be someone you feel comfortable with, that you enjoy being around, and someone who will fit in with your friends and family in real-life and in the photos. José rightly wanted to explore our options, and researched other photographers and we met up with a few before he agreed that Kate was his favourite too. We decided to spend a bit more on a second photographer so that there would be photos of José’s preparations on the day, the church beforehand and the bits of the celebration we knew we’d miss when we went to have our wedding day photoshoot.
We absolutely love our photos and they truly capture the joy and spirit of our day, and we’re still struggling to decide which ones we want to print and frame on our walls.
The Details & Décor
We don’t think of our wedding as being ‘DIY’ but when it came to the décor at the reception, what we did have, was very much a product of our searching and putting-together.
We handmade all of our signs, with the main ones on either light boxes or peg-boards to keep the cinema-feel of HOME. We printed a load of polaroid-style photos of us from across our 12 years together and these were pinned around the space, along with a few pegged onto our gorgeous copper archway (courtesy of Onyx hire) to encourage guests to use an Instax camera to take their own reception photos and peg them up.
We also created child-friendly activities in the bar area with ‘Design your own bride and groom’ colouring station, table-top games, and temporary tattoos of geeky things José and I love. We bought a load of miniature milk bottles for the flower centre-pieces or filled them with LED fairy lights.
We could not be more grateful to Stef who helped provide lots of the decoration from her personal stash, particularly the gorgeous jewel-tone bunting which helped transform the room at HOME. The paper lanterns were also Stef’s and so were some of the fairy lights and fake ivy which helped decorate the columns in the room. The bar area at HOME is quite open to people attending the cinema at the venue, and we wanted to create a feeling of a more enclosed space and privacy from the general public. This was quite a work in progress during planning, and José created a wicker screen using parasol bases, cable ties and ingenuity! These were then decorated with fake ivy to blend in with the rest of the venue, and were great for creating the feeling of a private space.
Finally, our wedding favours were shot glasses inscribed with our names, the date, a heart and a quote from Harry Potter of either ‘After all this time…?’ Or ‘Always.’ These were given out to all guests filled with Dominican rum to use as a toast during the speeches.
The day after our wedding we held a wedding brunch at our AirBnb apartment in the city-centre for all of our family to attend. We wanted to mingle the two families, continue the celebrations and catch-up on their stories from the day.
We went on an official honeymoon, a month later, to Dominican Republic to have a celebration with the rest of José’s family and then had five days in New York, just the two of us, on the way home.
Walking down the aisle – for both of us. It meant so much to me to have my mum and dad walk me down the aisle. And Jose said this was a highlight for him too.
Walking in our wedding procession through Manchester city-centre from the church to HOME; taking photos with Kate, practicing our unrehearsed first dance in the street, receiving cheers from pub gardens we passed on our way. Manchester herself was a part of our day.
The speeches were a personal highlight. We had said that people were an important part of our day, and the speeches really gave us a chance to stand up and say in our own words what we mean to each other but also to let all of our friends and family know what they mean to us.
The dancing. From the first dance to the frantic, energetic, joyful dancing with everyone. We even had an impromptu bridal dance-off culminating in Jose attempting a Russian cossack dance and then me doing the splits in my dress.
Advice For Other Couples
Throughout the planning process and after the wedding, Jose and I have maintained that the best thing we did was to write down our top three priorities at the beginning. By keeping our priorities in mind we were able to eliminate venues that weren’t suitable, allocate more money to the things that would have an impact on what we wanted from the day and, as a result, we were able to not spend money on things that didn’t matter to us (e.g. a sit down meal, groomsmen outfits, fancy transport).
We would also highly recommend other couples to get a coordinator for the day. We met Stef a month before the wedding to hand over all our contracts and our plans. This meant that on the day neither us, our family or our friends needed to liaise with the venue or vendors, allowing everyone to enjoy the celebrations without the stress of running the event.
Finally, we would say plan as much as you can but be prepare that things may not pan out exactly how you thought it would. Things outside your control will happen, there will be small mishaps and mistakes (like our wedding favours all got collected in and washed by the venue so lots of guests didn’t get to take their shot glasses home with them!) – but do not worry about it and try to just enjoy the moment.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Kate McCarthy Photography
St. Ann’s Church
Hair & Makeup
Katya Shehurina “Summer” dress from Case of the Curious Bride
Alterations Boutique Manchester
Bride’s Shoes & Groom’s Suit
DolliesCrawlies on Etsy
Best Woman Jumpsuit
From Dominican Republic
House of Fraser
Venue Dressing & Coordination
Stef at Alt Weddings Manchester
Onyx Prop Hire
By friends & family. Winning bake @lucyflames
What a beautifully vibrant day.
Katherine and José thank you so very much for sharing with us every little detail and your gorgeous photos too xo Lou