WWW readers Keeley & Danny tied the knot on 26th April 2019 in two fantastic venues in Manchester. Their ceremony took place against a backdrop of a beautiful arbour made by their best man at the Principal Hotel. A gorgeous reception which combined wild flowers and an industrial setting at Leaf followed.
Keeley and Danny planned their wedding from Australia and I think WWW readers planning destination weddings will love their account of planning and words of wisdom. They wanted to focus on good food and good music and had a really strong vision of the aesthetic and even shared this with their guests in their wedding newspaper. I think you’ll agree that it all came together so well.
Our pair fell in love with Kazooieloki Photography‘s relaxed and candid style, and aren’t the images just brilliant? Thank you so much for sharing them with us Richard and Christine!
We got engaged in Budapest in 2014 just after we found out we were moving to Australia! A long weekend away to explore as much of Europe as we could before we flew to the other side of the world for an unknown period of time.
On the Queen Elizabeth bridge, with the ring looped onto a lock, which we then padlocked to the bridge. We sat out on the street in true European style drinking champagne until the twinkly lights came on.
Something we wrote in our newspaper ceremony piece… which describes it quite well.
I close my eyes, and picture the warm glow of the city lights, surrounded by my closest ones and truly just embrace the bustle and beauty bathed in low lighting, fragrant scents, earthy textures and laughter.
The colour palette and vision has been an evolution, one that has twisted and changed over the months of planning, but each time we head out into the wilderness and each time we find ourselves amongst the trees, warmed by sunlight, a sense of serenity is also present. This is where we have drawn our inspiration from.
It’s been more than just a visual journey, the creation of today had to be more than just what each element looked like, we pushed into what we want it to feel like. How we want to feel at the end of the day, How we want our guests to feel. That cosy glow of a summers evening. When you come home from a long day and the candles are lit. When you dance without inhibition amongst friends. When you catch a scent that brings back a memory. That feeling.
Each piece and part had to enhance or add something to that feeling to make the cut. We have chosen to leave things out of today that did not speak to who we are didn’t fit with our traditions. We have played with texture, colour, space and scent to bring together this muted wild calm in the middle of the streets of Manchester.
All natural tones and textures for the table settings, flowers had to be strong but warm emphasising the calm yet juxtaposed against the brick and harsh metals.
Wild flowers are my favourite natural beauty. We have used them to bring a sense of nature indoors, a mix of English and Australian natives, fresh and everlasting, they show that beauty never fades, within nature and within ourselves. The wind has naturally placed these flowers exactly where they need to be.
The Planning Process
Planning from overseas was hard. To keep organised we set up a joint email address and used a road map in Trello. Keeley is a Digital Product Manager, so she was all over the tools we needed to get this project to completion.
From the very beginning we discussed what our absolute musts were and agreed on our priorities. Music and food were top of our list!
After a couple of arguments around ‘how’ to approach the planning, we quickly worked out where our individual strengths were and what roles we were going to play. Danny on budget, finance and communication – he’s a people person. Keeley on vision and creativity, naturally introvert but good with arty stuff.
After a couple of setbacks, our original venue cancelled on us after we had already set the date and booked our flights, we decided to work with a wedding planner so we would have someone on the ground to help, and someone on the same time zone as everyone else we were working with.
Planning from overseas throws a few challenges, you can’t meet people face to face, you must go off your gut and your interaction with people over Facetime or on email. It also means you can’t give yourself too much choice… otherwise there is too much time wasted talking to too many people. You take a recommendation or two, shortlist maybe two or three people/vendors/things, and then make a call.
We quickly learnt that mostly whatever decision you make will be the right one, so long as you have gone with your gut, and it speaks to the vision and you LOVE it. We followed some good advice that you should plan your wedding like the trip of a lifetime.
There was no, this matches that, or this is ‘’weddingy’’ or other people do this. We only chose things that we 100% loved and would have in our house! Or would include if we were planning the perfect weekend away with friends.
We set a budget of £24K
We spent a TOTAL of £25,126 So we were pretty darn happy with that.
If we just costed the ‘day’ our total spend was £19,382 all up.
The total spend included:
Accommodation for the week prior to the wedding in an Airbnb.
Unpaid leave that we had to take from work (In Australia, you get barely any leave!)
Our honeymoon to Italy
We had a day before event – rehearsal dinner
We had a recovery day event the day after
Essentially we had a destination wedding in our home town over three days.
At the very beginning of the planning we made a spreadsheet of everything we could possible want or need, and then prioritised them, and then split the budget accordingly. Our planner gave us an average costs of things, so we used that as a guide.
After a lot of research and talking, from farm stays, to manor houses in the country, we sat on the bed and just said what do you see, and we both saw the city centre, the bricks and the industrial architecture, being stood out on the cobbles, probably in the rain… but everyone just laughing and having a ball.
We saw the perfect city break, exploring our home city exactly the way we would if we visited a new place.
We had two venues in the end, our ceremony was in the Principal Hotel, a true red brick Manchester building with lots of grandeur but totally accessible to whoever and whenever. Their tagline is come as you are, something we really wanted to reflect.
Our dinner and reception at Leaf, an old art gallery, come tea and cocktail bar. We loved the textures, brick, iron, wood, concrete and how they championed something more creative in the food and independent in the drink’s choice. It reminded us of the places we hang out in Melbourne too, so it was a way to bring our two homes together.
Your Outfits & Accessories
Keeley – My dress was from Karen Willis Holmes, a Melbourne designer.
I went shopping on two occasions, with two of my girlfriends here and found my dress in the fourth shop. I knew I wanted something different, and what I found was exactly me. I put it on, textured sequins from head to toe, and I felt like the statue of liberty! Other girls in the shop at the time were like, you must get that one! I felt fierce and strong, and feminine all at the same time.
My shoes were from Midas shoes. A buttery soft off-white shoe.
Earrings – A small boutique in Melbourne called Sunday Social. Handmade by a local designer.
My tiara for the party in the evening, I hand made myself. Out of garden cable ties that I then spray painted gold. I wanted something tall with structure and I just couldn’t find it, so I sketched what I was thinking and then set about seeing if I could make it. My local hardware store one lunch time at work is where I ended up and it sort of just came to me. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, but it did. And I was super happy to be wearing something that I had made for the grand total of £6!
I had a duo team for hair and make up – Nala and Knot. They were amazing. I could not recommend them highly enough.
I had a trial the week before the wedding – and we went through three or four different looks. I had in my head quite a glamorous look, but it didn’t feel like me once I tried it. So I asked for it to be more ‘un-done’ and as soon as Laura started to pin my hair up I transformed into myself.
Natalie was a pro with the makeup, knowing exactly my skin type and tone. Both lasted ALL day and night, and look perfect in the photos… but also, importantly really natural in real life. I didn’t want a perfect photograph at the expense of having my face caked in layers and layers, but some how they nailed it! I looked like myself, just better.
Hair and make up for the bridesmaids, I wanted them to feel like themselves, so everyone had different hair, some up in vintage style, some down and free flowing. Make up used a similar colour palette to me, but again they had control on how they wanted to look and ultimately feel. And I am SO glad because everyone felt a million dollars.
At one point I was taking a nap whilst my sister was getting her hair done, and I could hear her asking for braids and I almost almost flipped to bridezilla and told her no braids allowed, but then I was like… if Lucy is going to feel like herself, and comfortable, and sparkle with braids, then braids it is. And she looked beautiful.
I am really driven by scent, in terms of mood and memory, so the room smelled like eucalyptus and lemon balm. And I had my perfume, Si by Georgio Armarni. My forever scent. Nothing new!
We had two best men, Sam and Carl and two Groomsmen, Callum and Mark. The boys wore navy Italian suits from MJ Bale (Australian) and a rich brown/golden tie. The suit had a brown pinstripe.
Danny had the same suit, but had it tailored slightly differently, with turn ups on the trousers and a different collar on his shirt. He is all about the subtle tweaks that make something different.
I had four bridesmaids, my absolute favourite people in the world. My sister, Lucy, and my three best friends, Holly, Jenny and Kate. All from different parts of my life, and all such different people. Mums to wonderful children, entrepreneurs all with big dreams and absolute unwavering support for me and Danny.
I didn’t want the typical ‘bridesmaid’ look. It was very important to me that my people felt like the best version of themselves, and that they were happy and comfortable, and also that they would wear their dresses again.
The wedding industry can at times be quite unsustainable and throw away. So where possible we tried to choose things that would not just have a one-day lifespan.
I gave them a budget and a brief… olive green, khaki green, golden tones. But with the seasons in the UK there was nothing! I found all of the dresses here in Melbourne and sent them back home. I must have a good eye and know my girls because every single dress was different but perfect.
Kate wore a pale green vintage style dress with a high neck and lots of floaty fabric with a soft petal detail. Stevie May, a Bryon Bay designer – on SALE! £80
Lucy wore a wrap floaty dress in olive green, ASOS design with a back cape. £50!
Jenny wore an olive-green slip dress with spaghetti straps and a cowl back from Topshop. Which is cute because we met at Topshop when we worked through uni. On sale for £35.
Holly wore a khaki silk slip dress from Beginning Boutique, an Australian online clothes store. £45.
The Readings & Music
We’ve learnt over time our experiences have been about the journey as much as he destination, so we chose a poem called Ithaka to be read by bridesmaid Holly (who is also emigrating herself soon).
We had a blessing of the rings ceremony, in which our rings were passed to each person in the room for them to bless with their love and wishes for us, meaning that when we travelled back home to Australia, we would be bringing all that energy back with us in our rings… which are a symbol not just of our love and commitment but also the community in which our love exists and flourishes.
As the rings travelled and were blessed, we had a friendship circle where we had a selection of our friends speak from the heart about us and offer a wish or piece of advice for our marriage. Everyone approached this so differently and it was such a nice reflection on how we approach life, inclusive.
Music was a HUGE part of our day.
To make the planning fun we spent a lot of time building playlists for the music and we choreographed our first dance ourselves, usually in the park or at the beach silent disco style!
Our music for the ceremony was a singer / guitarist who was a dream to work with and played music instrumentally for us underneath all this happening.
Our ceremony is one of our favourite parts of the day. It felt really inclusive and the wall of emotion and love just kept waving over us.
Danny and I decided to walk down the aisle together, not have him waiting at the end or be given away. We arrive at everything together, and this was no different. Our walk in song was F.E.A.R by Ian Brown. Very Manchester, and a song that we listened to a lot at the beginning of our relationship.
We had Blackbird, The Beatles, and Halo by Beyonce also played acoustically by Liam. He put a real Manchester spin with his voice of honey.
Our walk out song was Here comes the sun.
We worked with Grace at Maybe May. A one woman show with a small studio in Ancoats, Manchester. I found her on Instagram and loved the wild vibe that she had. Nothing was too pruned or put together. The beauty of the flowers was showcased through the use of different textures and different shades of the same colour.
I wanted everything to be earthy, mostly greenery… with lots of texture.
Eucalyptus of course, Australian natives in my bouquet and lots of grasses.
I gave Grace a brief of colour and texture and then she made it come alive.
We had what we learnt is a semi naked cake! There was loads and it was delicious. As we couldn’t do the cake taste well in advance the baker made some smaller versions and we did a tasting right before the wedding with our grandparents, which was nice! Luckily our favourite came out on top in the scoring! Lemon cake.
The Details & Décor
We had a newspaper printed for our ceremony, which had articles that we had written along the planning journey, to show and tell people how we had approached the day so they felt a real part of it and got an insight into what had been happening.
Our table plan was hand made escort cards, with love notes written to each of our guests on the back.
Our table names were places we have been camping, and told stories of our adventures and when we feel most at peace out in the wilderness is where a lot of our best ideas come… not just about the wedding, but everything.
We created a mix of industrial vibes, with steel candle sticks, and taper candles set against textured greenery and grasses.
The Triangle arbour was handmade by our best man, Sam.
The invitations were designed by my bridesmaid Jenny, who is an illustrator and graphic designer. We sent her a photograph of us surrounded by green plants sat at a banquet table and she turned it into the perfect illustration of us.
Our after dinner cocktails were typical Manchester and Melbourne tipples.
Tea infused Gin and Tonic, sat alongside our words about Manchester.
Taught us how to split the atom, make a chip barm, and not look back in anger. Red and blue on Saturdays, every colour in pride. Sorted our kid.
Espresso Martini for Melbourne
Brought us the Espresso Martini, home of the ‘G and rod laver, Gigs at the forum, and Schooners at Stomping ground. She’ll be right mate.
We also had a paint by numbers for our guests to get involved with. We had a photograph of the bar and street where we had our leaving party from Manchester, almost five years ago. We turned that into a canvas sketch paint by numbers and everyone got involved. Its now hanging pride of place in our office.
My girlfriend Shelley made me a leather jacket, with the words ‘til death embroidered on the back. It was a definite leather jacket kind of wedding.
Husband and Wife team, Kazooieloki
They really understood who we were as a couple, and what our vision for the day was early on.
Shooting from the heart, we very much wanted a documentary style approach to the day, capturing the emotion and the energy, not just smiling posed faces. We did sneak a few portrait shots in there, for the family memories, but mostly it was people faces, reactions and emotion that was caught on camera.
We also really wanted to capture the place, not just the people, and they did so wonderfully. We will look back and see Manchester in our photographs, not just our family and friends.
We love every single photograph, and would highly recommend these guys.
Love two Film – Bruce. We haven’t seen our edit yet, but Bruce was clear and cool to work with.
The ceremony with our friend, Eddie, leading us through. It was such an emotional time. We were able to really personalise the whole thing, and really felt the energy in the room. If ever anyone has the option to have a friend or family member officiate, I would really recommend it.
We wrote our own vows, which were from very different angles, but worked so perfectly together.
The walk between our venues, such a good time. Everyone was so happy, and we really marched through the streets feeling on top of the world with our very own soundtrack, Liam singing and playing the guitar.
A small break to Italy. Pasta, red wine, cheese, bread. We flew to Bologna, then drove through Florence to Tuscany and stayed in the Cianti region. Then we drove to Lucca for a rustic traditional stay in an old town.
Advice For Other Couples
Plan your wedding like it’s the trip of a lifetime, or at least a really really awesome weekend away
Work out up front what your non-negotiables are and stick to it. Although don’t be surprised if along the journey you realise that something else is actually super important that you didn’t think of at first (for us this was a videographer!)
If you don’t love it, and it doesn’t speak to who you are, don’t do it.
We made time to really think about how we wanted ourselves and our guests to feel at each point of the day, this is something we kept coming back to each time we had a new idea or a choice of vendors etc. Will this add to the feeling or will this take away.
Make sure you are present.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Love Two Film
Karen Willis Holmes
Hair and Make up
Nala and Knot
Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful wild and industrial day with us Keeley and Danny! Rachel x