I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of a surprise wedding so I’m absolutely loving bringing you today’s nuptials. A stress free and relaxed wedding was really important to our couple Rachel and Joe and I think you’re really going to appreciate their pared back approach to the day.
When they decided to surprise everyone by getting married at what their family and friends thought was just a celebration for Rachel’s 30th birthday they decided to really focus on the two of them getting married without too much extra fuss.
Of course extras aren’t necessarily needed when everything is taking place against the beautiful backdrop of the Lake District. On 13th July 2019, the ceremony itself along with some drinks and canapés took place at Cote How and afterwards everyone walked to the nearby Glen Rothay for some food. Just perfect!
Thank you so much to Carn Patrick who captured their day and has been kind enough to share the images with us today!
We had been together six years before Joe proposed back in September 2016. We had been on a little two week tour of Britain, firstly camping in our favourite place..the Lake District then staying in hotels in the Peak District , visiting family in Devon, staying in converted shipping containers and hobbit huts in Cornwall before heading back to the lake district for our final two nights.
We revisited a walk called Aira Force, having walked past the stunning waterfall..continued to a little viewing platform on the edge of the mountain overlooking Ullswater. Pouring down with rain, I had set up my phone so we could do a ‘two years on’ photo of us, I set my camera to take multiple shots…little did I know it was going to capture the moment he got down on one knee! So excited as we were scrambling back down the mountain I was telling everyone we came into contact with before finding a little cafe in Pooley bridge to ring all of our family from.
Joe had actually designed my ring himself with his sister in law who lovingly made it and he secretly collected it when we visited them in Devon just days before.
Stress Free! I am a big believer in reducing stress whenever possible. We had known for a while that we ideally wanted a wedding in the Lake District with close family and friends, quite stripped back and simple, relaxed and something that made the most of the beauty of the lakes….other than that we didn’t rally have a clue! We were initially hoping for a 2020 wedding on July 4th as that would also be our 10 year anniversary.
The Planning Process
My sister and family had actually been planning a surprise 30th Birthday celebration weekend in the Lake District for me on the weekend of the 12th-14th July… I knew it was somewhere in the lakes and I knew so many of my closest family and friends were coming so I decided in April to ask Joe if he wanted to turn the surprise on our family and friends and hijack my birthday weekend and turn it into a wedding! On board with the idea, we started planning straight away. Now we only had 10 weeks to plan our wedding.
First of all we confirmed with Joe’s sister in law that she would be able to make our wedding rings in time. Then it was a case of sitting down and finding the right place with availability for this specific date at such short notice.
We have been fortunate enough to be living rent free in my Mam and Step-dad’s pub so we have been able to save a little however we knew at such short notice we’d have to be clever and prioritise what was important to us.
Cote How – Lake District wedding venue.
I found this venue online and instantly loved it! When I showed Joe his face lit up as he pulled a little piece of paper out of his wallet with the name of this venue on it. He had actually found the venue two years prior when we first got engaged and kept hold of the name! When I contacted the venue and explained our vision they could not have been more accommodating and on board! Caroline and Steve were actually meant to be going on holiday that weekend but cancelled their plans to make our amazing day happen!
The venue itself is a stunning home with a converted barn to the side and amazing gardens set around full of the most beautiful wild flowers and manicured lawns, Rydal water on the doorstep and the Lake District countryside surrounding us.
To keep cost down and to minimise the formality to the wedding we decided to split the day between Cote How where we had drinks on arrival before the ceremony, followed by the ceremony and then a canapé reception. We then walked alongside the Lake, over a little wooden footbridge to a countryside pub called the Glen Rothay Hotel and Badger Bar for a relaxed home made buffet reception with garden drinks.
I had a sunflower bouquet that was lovingly made for me as a gift by a friend who was unable to be at the wedding (I let her in on the secret knowing she was away).
Sarah (MOH) had a smaller sunflower Posy.
The venue had the most stunning wild flower arrangements, carefully prepared from their own gardens by Caroline (the host of Cote How). At the pub we had mason jars with a single sunflower and gypsophila in that I put together the day before the wedding…the boldness of the sunflower really worked
Your Outfits & Accessories
I found my perfect dress online, from a British designer called Tiffany Rose. I tried on big dresses and they just weren’t me…I always had it in my head to have a knee length, lace dress with sleeves and that’s exactly what I got!
I had never ordered clothes online before so I was amazed when my dress came and it was perfect! I teamed it with ivory satin heels that later got switched to white converse with a denim jacket.
Joe knew exactly what he wanted…a woollen three piece suit. We got his suit from Slaters, who were amazing. The suit was tailored within a week.
I decided to do my own hair and make up…I like natural makeup and I knew how I wanted my hair. Doing this myself made it even more relaxed in the morning. My friend Emma helped and put the final touches to my hair which was a lovely moment.
I had my sister as my maid of honour. Sarah wore a gorgeous
Olive colour dress that worked beautifully with her flowers. I bought this dress for Sarah as a surprise when I asked her (just three weeks before the wedding) so I knew it had to be the right style. We didn’t have a budget for this dress, we just wanted it to be right, after days of hunting in shops and online, I ended up getting her dress from Select! Bargain! Looked amazing and Sarah felt great in it which was all that mattered.
The Readings & Music
We kept our ceremony to a traditional ceremony with no readings.
I walked in to ‘rise’ by Eddie Vedder and we signed our wedding certificate to ‘Signed sealed delivered’ Stevie wonder and ‘Let’s stay together’ Al Green. We walked up the aisle as husband and wife to ‘Lovely Day’ Bill Withers.
The Details & Décor
We stripped everything right back, we decided we didn’t want favours etc. For us, this kept the focus on just being together and celebrating our marriage.
We had wooden board games on tables for adults and kids to play with which went down a treat and we kept music to a simple Spotify playlist we made of our favourite songs.
A friend I worked with 10 years ago made our cake, she has a company called The Sugar Poppy. It was a two tier semi-naked cake. Bottom tier lemon and top tier chocolate.
A friend of Joe’s from school, we were incredibly lucky Carn had availability on our weekend. His style is stunning and he had the most amazing way with all of our family and friends. He knew exactly how to get the most out of everyone and made everyone feel comfortable getting their photos taken. He captured so many incredible moments and details without ever feeling intrusive.
We had a mini-moon to a yurt with a wood fired hot tub straight after the weekend and we have just booked an awesome trip to Croatia in October.
Definitely surprising our family and friends was a moment we will never forget! The shock and joy on people’s faces was incredible…we even caught it in camera!
Taking some time for a little photo shoot just me and Joe was beautiful, have us some fun time to reflect.
Watching all of our friends and family talking and getting to know each other.
The coach journey back to the lodges after the wedding…everyone was ahem…merry!
Advice For Other Couples
Make sure you keep your wedding… your wedding. This isn’t anyone else’s day. Decide what is important to you both as a couple. Relax, try to enjoy the planning process…it really doesn’t have to be too stressful. Don’t get sucked into what you think you should/ shouldn’t have or include and focus on what you want..this can also help to keep cost down!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
What a way to do a wedding! Thank you so much for sharing your surprise nuptials with us Rachel and Joe! Rachel x