Today we bring you Samantha and David’s most excellent museum wedding which took place against a backdrop of dinosaurs no less!
Beginning in the early evening, our pair decided to split their celebrations over two days, with their ceremony and wedding breakfast on Friday 10th August 2018 at Manchester Museum and their reception party at Manchester Hall the following day.
Samantha and David wanted to keep everything relatively simple and generally laid back, and what a brilliant job they did. The museum was just the most incredible setting for their nuptials, with all the exhibits meaning that they didn’t need too much in the way of décor. Just imagine saying your vows in front of the dinosaurs!
Our pair knew they wanted Chris Barber to be their photographer and it’s very easy to see why from these incredible images.
From the orange hues of the florals and the bridesmaids’ dresses to the gold dinosaurs and wonderful greenery, I think you’re going to love this wedding. Enjoy!
We got engaged in Berlin in late December 2016. The trip was my idea so I had no clue David was planning to propose – it turns out he asked for my dad’s blessing in October 2015, so my parents had been waiting for a long time! We’d been to a fancy sushi restaurant and ordered way too much, got a bit merry and took a long walk back to our hotel through the city. We were staying at the Westin Grand hotel, which has a beautiful lobby with a grand piano and a huge chandelier – we went up to our level and I was watching the pianist over the balcony when David saw his opportunity. It took me a while to get my mittens off but it was still perfect!
Before we even got engaged I had planned a New York City wedding in my mind. I even had a hotel, photographer and venues picked! In the end we decided that what was important to us was that the wedding would be fun, laid back, personal to us and easy (and affordable) for our guests to attend and enjoy. Also to have dinosaurs be a part of it because why not!
The Planning Process
We agreed that we didn’t want to have a long engagement, so once we’d had a few months to just enjoy being engaged we got right to it. It was easy to decide on Manchester as we both love the city (that’s why we live here!) and it’s a good mid-way point for our family and friends who would be travelling from the northeast, the Midlands and the south. Once we knew we were having it here and picked the venue everything else fell into place, although I relied on recommendations for a lot of things because I found trawling through wedding magazines a bit overwhelming at times – there are so many incredible options out there.
We knew from the off that we wouldn’t be having a traditional church wedding – although churches are beautiful we’re both atheist so didn’t feel it would be right to use one for this purpose. So for the ceremony and wedding breakfast we chose The Manchester Museum. We visited a wide variety of possible venues including several hotels and a 15th Century library, but we knew straight away once we visited the museum that it was perfect. We went there on one of our first dates back in 2012, and it’s just so atmospheric and stunning.
Because the museum is open to the public our guests couldn’t arrive until 4.45pm, and the ceremony started at 5.30pm. We were in the museum until just after 10pm so following this everybody went back to the stunning Principal Hotel for drinks where we were staying along with our wedding party and many of our guests.
We had our Reception Party the next day at Manchester Hall – a beautifully renovated former Freemasons hall in the city centre.
Your Outfits & Accessories
Choosing my dress was the most difficult decision of the whole process! I was looking for something classic with a unique twist. I tried on dozens of dresses at boutiques around Manchester, Hull and London. I even took a trip to New York with my parents and visited Kleinfelds. The week before the New York trip I tried on a beautiful strapless A-line dress by Watters with unusual vertical beading at Agapé in Altrincham which seemed to fit the bill. Luckily they stocked the same dress in Kleinfelds so I was able to try it on again and make sure it was the right one for me, which it was, so we called Agapé straight away and paid the deposit.
I had a fingertip length veil (also from Agapé) and a hair vine from Debenhams. I didn’t want too much jewellery because my dress was very detailed and I had the hair vine, but my parents bought me a lovely silver bracelet from Tiffany’s as a wedding gift which was perfect.
David’s suit was from Ted Baker. He chose pale blue as he wanted something a bit different but still fashionable! The accessories (belt, shoes and tie) were from Next, and he got dinosaur cufflinks for himself and his best man from Debenhams.
The best man wore a similar suit to David’s from Burtons, and he had the same accessories.
I had three bridesmaids who are my close friends from childhood and university. David also had a best woman as well as his best man (who of course is one of my close friends too!)
The dresses were from a website called Mixbridal, one where you can choose from a multitude of designs and colours. It was important to me that the girls all liked their dresses and had a say in what they would wear. We chose a tea length dress and for the colours we chose orange, coral, burnt orange and red. The colours complimented each other really nicely and they all looked gorgeous.
We also had three flowers girls; my two nieces and my cousin. Their dresses were made to measure by the lovely and talented Jenny at By Design in Hull. Each dress had a sash and bow to match a different bridesmaid dress.
My hair and makeup was done by Rosie from The Makeup Company. Rosie was recommended to me by a friend, and she was so patient with me every time I changed my mind! For my makeup it was important to me that I felt like myself, so I did my own foundation and blusher while Rosie did my eyes with gold tones.
I found it really difficult to decide what to do with my hair. I knew I didn’t want anything too formal or traditionally bridal, so I had two trials with Rosie before we settled on a low messy bun.
The Readings & Music
We didn’t have any readings during the ceremony. Neither of us are particularly comfortable being the centre of attention so we wanted to keep it simple and speedy!
I walked down the aisle to a piano arrangement by Paul Hankinson of Pachelbel’s Canon in D, Bach’s Air (two pieces I love) and Can’t Help Falling in Love With You by Elvis Presley (which is what the pianist was playing in our hotel when David proposed).
During the signing of the register we had “Married Life” from Disney’s Up by Michael Giacchino, and to walk back down the aisle we had the theme from Jurassic Park by John Williams.
I started off the speeches, followed by my dad, the best woman, the best man and finally David. It sounds like a lot but everyone was limited to five minutes each so things didn’t drag.
Our first dance was to Such Great Heights by The Postal Service.
Our flowers and centrepieces were by Alison and Becs at Diddibox, a small locally owned business in Sale. We went to Alison with no real clue of what we wanted other than succulents, dinosaurs and a vague colour scheme and she worked her magic and put our ideas into creating the most beautiful flowers and decorations! I particularly loved our centrepieces, which were gold terrariums on logs, with a few plants (and gold dinosaurs) around.
Alison was also kind enough to let us use the centrepieces and other decorations such as crates again the next day for our reception party, which saved us so much time and money.
We decided against having a cake – it was one tradition that didn’t feel important to us, so we bought a cake stand online and filled it with Krispy Kreme donuts instead, which our guests seemed to enjoy!
Other than the venue, finding the right photographer was the most important thing to us. We wanted a photographer who would capture the actual moments and memories of our wedding as they happened so we could enjoy the time with our friends and family rather than standing around posing all day!
I found Chris Barber on instagram and was instantly hooked. He has a gift for capturing scenes that tell a story and he just isn’t like a lot of wedding photographers out there. We contacted him to let him know about our plans and we’re so glad that he was available and keen to be part of it.
The Details & Décor
We didn’t want to spend hours DIYing for the wedding, which is why we picked a venue which didn’t need any decorations to make it beautiful. I did order specific chairs from a company called Eventhire because I’m not a fan of chair covers. We also had a choice of colours for uplighting in each museum gallery – we chose white for the ceremony, blue and purple downstairs for our drinks reception and speeches, and yellow for the wedding breakfast.
Our wedding stationery was designed by David’s brother James who is an artist, so that was his gift to us. Our save the dates included cartoon versions of us in our favourite holiday pictures, and our invitations were simple and classy while still having personal touches like images our beloved cats, Miso and Bento!
The place cards and table names were written by a calligrapher called Debbie who we found on Etsy. We bought a mirror from The Range for the table plan (and we used it again the next day for our polaroid guest book at the reception party), and we had lots of small dinosaurs scattered around which we bought online and David sprayed gold.
I asked one of my friends to be my driver; she has a cute mint green Nissan Figaro named ‘Lucy’ who I know well! It was so nice to have someone I know driving me and my dad as I was so calm and relaxed when we arrived.
Our honeymoon was planned by Mark Bratt from Mark Bratt Travel, an independent travel agent who took our budget and ideas and organised the most incredible trip to Southern Africa. We started in Johannesburg then flew to Botswana for a safari, then drove across to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Finally we self-drove the Garden Route in South Africa from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town. It was all incredible and we’d do it again in a heartbeat!
The most memorable part for both of us was probably the ceremony – I got to the ‘altar’ which was a registrar’s table set up in front of a huge cabinet full of taxidermy and just couldn’t stop laughing. It felt very surreal looking at a stuffed gorilla while saying my vows!
Advice For Other Couples
The most important thing is to not feel pressured into following traditions that you don’t care about, or doing anything to please or suit anyone other than yourselves!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Chris Barber Photography
The Manchester Museum
Duchess by Watters
Agapé Bridal Boutique
Best Man’s Suit
What a wonderful way to celebrate your special day. Thanks so much for sharing your unique wedding with us Samantha and David. Rachel x