By Rachel Harrison
What a beautiful and elegant celebration we have to share with you today! Georgia and Carl tied the knot at Georgia’s childhood church on 4th May 2019 and they enjoyed an intimate reception at Middlethorpe Hall in North Yorkshire afterwards. This pair prioritised great food and wine as well as fantastic music to entertain their guests, perfect.
I think you’re going to really love some of the decorative touches too. How beautiful is Georgia’s hoop which she carried instead of a bouquet so as not to cover the front of her dress!
Our couple chose Leeds wedding photographer Andy Withey Photography, hasn’t he captured the beauty of their intimate elegant affair just brilliant? Thank you so much for sharing with us Andy. Enjoy everyone!
Carl proposed to me on a surprise trip to the Austrian Alps where we often ski and hike together and with family. It’s definitely our ‘happy place’!
For weeks I thought we were going for a long weekend in Normandy with my parents. It wasn’t until I was at the airport, and not the ferry terminal, that I realised we were on our way to Austria. I didn’t suspect a proposal straight away because Carl often surprises me, so I thought it was another thoughtful gesture!
Once in Austria, I spent the whole drive to our hotel glued to my phone, streaming Meghan and Harry’s big day. In the afternoon, Carl dropped a knee in a quiet moment on a terrace with a beautiful view of the Alps and a very nice bottle of champagne.
At first, we wanted a ‘cool’ ski-season wedding in Austria. We had visions of our favourite trendy mountain bar as a venue, with house music and plenty of booze. But, as we started to chat about it, we realised how many people couldn’t come and how the ‘vibe’ might not be to everyone’s taste.
We sat down and refined what was important to us and we came out with the exact opposite from where we started, opting for a traditional and fuss-free wedding. We wanted to make all our guests feel valued and special, so we decided not to have a big party with a disco or with lots of dancing. Instead, our vision was a wedding that allowed us to spend time with our guests and treat them to a day of good music, laughter and great food and wine.
We wanted to get married within a year of getting engaged, so the planning started quickly. We chose the first May bank holiday as our wedding weekend, seeing us married just under a year after getting engaged, with the advantage of always having a bank holiday to celebrate the anniversaries!
Because we wanted a fuss-free wedding, the planning didn’t seem very overwhelming to us. We started with a guest list and budget, trying to balance the type of wedding we wanted and who we wanted to celebrate with. Once we had this sorted, the rest fell into place nicely. We both wanted an afternoon wedding, with a reception straight after, an evening meal and a cocktail party to follow. No disco!
We stayed away from strict ‘wedding colours’ or worrying too much about matching groomsmen and bridesmaids. We agreed we’d choose what we liked and not let a colour theme dictate our choices. As it happened, by doing this, we ended up with a colourful wedding with forest green running through a number of elements, from bridesmaids’ dresses to menu cards.
Bridesmaids dresses were from Coast and we chose some gold heels with pearl details from Dune which complimented all our accessories nicely.
As a gift, I surprised both my bridesmaids with the same pearl and gold earrings as me, cute clutch bags in gold and a pair of Wolford tights to polish off the look.
We chose to get married in the church where I was christened, in the village where I grew up. The church is 13th Century, stone built and has gorgeous stained-glass windows. It’s really small with just 8 rows of pews and so it was a perfect fit for our intimate, traditional wedding.
For the reception, we chose Middlethorpe Hall, a William and Mary red-brick country house just outside York’s city centre.
This was almost a no-brainer for us because we’d been several times to celebrate special occasions and were always impressed with the food, wine and service, it only felt right to celebrate our wedding there, too.
Middlethorpe only do a hand-full of weddings a year and never more than one in the same week, so we felt that we were in good hands and everyone seemed excited about hosting our wedding.
I had a trusted Hairdresser, Andy, from The Attic Experience in York do my hair along with my Mum and bridesmaids’ hair.
I gave Andy a headache with my hair trials. I had three, because I just couldn’t find a look I was happy with. I was desperate to avoid frothy ringlets or a typical wedding hairstyle, so I was aiming for more fashion-forward styles and they were just not working. After three trials, I went for a sleek and groomed bun that took all my hair off my face. Credit to Andy who tried his very best with all my ideas and refrained from saying “I told you so” when I went with a style he suggested on day one…
My Maid of Honour lives in Qatar and so her hair was a one-hit-wonder on the day. Andy did it perfectly first-time, with no trial, and I couldn’t have been more grateful.
I bought some gorgeous gold and pearl hair pieces from Accessorize along with some similar, complimenting pieces for my bridesmaids. These were great because they were pretty but not too heavy. Some pieces I came across on Etsy were lovely but very heavy and the pearls would have been ruined with hairspray and perfume.
Amy George did make-up for me, my mum and bridesmaids and she is mega. I practically stalked her down because I’d seen her work credited online for an editorial shoot and thought ‘I need this woman to paint my face’, so I hit google really hard and finally found her.
Amy kindly agreed to doing a trial for both me and my mum because my mum was a bit nervous about having a make-up artist who might not be used to making up a more mature face, but there was nothing to worry about with Amy. She listened to what we both wanted, designed the looks with us with our outfits in mind, and chatted to us at length about what products she was using to make sure the look was right for us, and was going to last all day.
Carl describes himself as ‘vertically challenged’. In reality, he’s just a smidge below average height, but he has always found it hard to find a well-fitting suit that he feels good in, so we had his handmade by Mullen & Mullen (Father of the Bride also had a handmade Mullen & Mullen suit).
We really enjoyed getting Carl’s suit handmade. He had more fittings than I had for my dress and it felt refreshing for Carl to really treat himself to something, especially since its usually the bride who has all the fittings and bespoke experience! He styled his suit with a dark green tie from Reiss and Loake shoes in black.
My dress was Jesus Peiro (Style ‘6000’) and I bought it from Love Bird Bridal in Ilkley. I thought I’d wanted a slinky dress or something that would hug my figure, but as I was trying them on, I just felt uncomfortable. None of them really made me feel very much like myself and I wanted to enjoy a full 3-course meal without worrying about holding my tummy in!
My mum found the dress I eventually chose and as soon as I tried it on, I knew I was sorted. I felt really ‘me’ and it had pockets! I loved the clean lines and the stand-up collar gave it a fashionable edge, but it was still modest and gave a significant nod to tradition. Did I mention it had POCKETS!?
I styled my dress with a silk, cathedral-length veil with a very thin pencil edge. For shoes, I had a pair of gold Russell and Bromley slingback heels, complete with a sliver sixpence I found at my Grandma’s.
For finishing touches, I bought some small pearl and gold earrings from Etsy and borrowed an emerald and diamond dress-ring of my mum’s. She had to stress that I was to give it back to her so that it was in fact borrowed… much to my disappointment.
Groomsmen wore their own navy suits and they were styled with a dark green and navy houndstooth tie from T.M.Lewin.
In our hierarchy of wedding needs, music was a top three, so we spent quite a bit of our budget on music throughout the day and put a lot of thought into what was played.
We had a harpist at the church to play a mix of contemporary and classical music as guests arrived, as well as the during bride’s entrance, the signing of the register and the recessional. We also had the church organist play our chosen hymns.
My Dad and I came down the aisle to the Beatle’s ‘Here Comes the Sun’, a happy and upbeat nod to Carl’s Merseyside home.
Our chosen hymns were ‘Once More Step Along the World I Go’ which we felt was a very appropriate wedding hymn, especially if you’re wanting to keep the ceremony feeling light, for those guests who don’t often find themselves in church! We also sang Jerusalem, a well-known hymn that me, and a number of our guests have sung countless times at school. Singing this at our wedding was a real highlight for me and I was thankful that Carl let me pick it without hesitation.
One of my dearest friends, whose fiancée was my bridesmaid, read ‘Never Marry But for Love’ from an Essay by William Penn, a prominent Quaker and advocate for religious freedom. Carl’s Grandad read a passage from Colossians and I surprised Carl by asking his sister to read some relationship advice from Bob Marley, which starts with ‘He’s not perfect, but you aren’t either’, which got a fair bit of laughter from our guests.
We signed the resister to ‘All You Need Is Love’, another Beatles classic, and we joyfully left the church to Florence and The Machine’s ‘You Got The Love’, both also on the Harp.
At Middlethorpe Hall, the brilliant Gershwin Gang played swing music for our guests during the drinks reception. During dinner, we had Middlethorpe’s own pianist Alec Robinson and after dinner, Melanie Wildley (who we scouted at a friend’s summer garden party and tracked her down for ourselves) sang a mix of cocktail party appropriate songs for our evening celebrations.
If you’re thinking of a North Yorkshire wedding, you’re in safe hands with Fiona Hogg, who provided the flowers for us. She and her business partner Miranda are practically mind readers. We showed them one or two photos of flowers and an idea I had for an alternative bridal bouquet and they realised our vision perfectly.
My bridal hoop, an alternative to the bouquet, was designed so I could hold it and I couldn’t be covering the bow at the front of my dress. When it arrived on the morning of the wedding, I couldn’t quite believe how similar it was to what I had in my mind. I loved it so much I almost cried!
Our vision for flowers were rich, colourful pinks and peaches with deep, true-green foliage. We wanted to keep things as natural as possible so we didn’t want anything looking too similar to each other and nothing symmetrical and Fiona really understood our vision. Everything from the flower arch at the church, to the buttonholes and table centres were perfect in every way. Fiona and Miranda spent time with us, chatting about how to dress the room with flowers, tealights, fairy lights and greenery and we had so many compliments from guests on how well presented our venue was.
We loved our flowers so much we have asked a silk floristry specialist to recreate a centre piece for us to keep!
Our Photographer, Andy Withey, is a friend of mine and I was a bit nervous to ask him, just in case he said ‘no’! Thankfully he didn’t say no, he enthusiastically accepted our request and we are so pleased he did, because his photos blew us away.
Andy was a perfect choice for us because he’s a documentary photographer who photographs things as they happen, rather than organising endless posed shots. At our fuss-free wedding, both Carl and I didn’t want to spend more than 10mins on formal photos because we wanted to spend time enjoying our wedding with our guests, so having Andy photograph exactly that was a perfect fit.
As we’ve looked back through the photos (countless times), the photos capture the day exactly how we remember it; full of fun, love and laughter and Andy captured that and so many other small, but important moments that passed us by on the day.
Andy also bought a little polaroid printer that he used to print a handful of photos whilst we were all having dinner. It was a great surprise that we were able to give to guests to keep, and for guests to write messages on for us to keep.
Julia, our contact at Middlethorpe Hall was very patient with us, helping us plan our perfect celebration and finished off the vision for our day. Middlethorpe provided a red carpet for arrival, place cards, menu booklets, cake knives and brought out all the best silver, crockery and stemware for dinner which made the whole day feel really classy and ‘put together’.
As homage to Carl’s Italian heritage, we brewed Limoncello at home and decanted it into mini bottles, complete with a little gift tag for favours. Carl’s mum also made us gift bags in dark-green satin with five traditional sugared almonds for each guest.
Instead of a guestbook, we saved the bottles of champagne we had been gifted and drank in celebration of our engagement, picked our favourites and asked guests to write messages and put them into the bottles that we will smash and read on our 5, 10, 15 and 25yr wedding anniversaries.
Save the dates, invitations, order of service booklets and favour gift tags were by Rosemood Atelier.
Two days after getting married, we jetted off to the Maldives for 10-nights, choosing the ultra-luxurious Ozen by Atmosphere resort where we went diving, ate plenty of good food and enjoyed the desert-island life.
Carl’s sister treated us to our wedding cake and macarons from York Cakes. We went for a tasting and were set on the lemon curd cake from the first bite.
We had a small cutting cake and a macaron tower that complemented our flowers, in the flavours we wanted. Guests were pleasantly surprised by pink macarons that were passionfruit flavoured – we were able to have the best of both worlds!
Carl and I both agree on the same memorable moment for our day. Our guests had been invited to dinner and Carl and I remained in the drawing room for a few minutes on our own. The band congratulated us and told us they’d play their last song. Staff seemed to disappear from the room, leaving Carl and I to enjoy our first moments alone as a married couple, the band played just for us and we had our own first dance. It was very romantic.
Make five minutes for yourself in the day where you’re both alone and together. Everyone wants a piece of you, your cheeks will hurt from smiling, it’s a busy and exciting day and you’re likely to spend some of the day apart. Carl and I took ourselves away from the bustle of the drinks reception for just 5-mins and were able enjoy each other’s company, compare notes on our mornings and let the joy sink in, and I’m really glad we did that.
There’s so much temptation to throw away tradition or spending loads on something no one else has thought of, just for the sake of uniqueness. Forget it! Just do what you like. Your wedding will be unique in that its your wedding so don’t worry about the doves or the singing waiters if it’s going to stretch the budget. Your guests are there to celebrate you and the day will be memorable to everyone for that reason.
Andy Withey Photography
What a super special day. Thank you so much Georgia and Carl for sharing your elegant celebrations with us. Rachel x
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