I have the most gorgeous wedding to share with you today, as we jet off...
Happy Monday everyone, how was your weekend? I hope it was good and you managed to chill out and have lots of fun. I had a great weekend, Saturday Nik and I went to Manchester for my friends 40th birthday. It was a great day, despite the rain. Then Sunday we had a lovey day with Dexter. Now it’s back to work and ready for a very busy week on the blog. I have lots of lovey weddings and a jam packed schedule of wedding articals and suppliers to share with you. I am starting off with this super cute wedding in the peak District from Alice Cunliffe. Sarah and Craig held a fabulous looking wedding, with a hexagon theme, from the photo backdrop, to the wedding cake, which gave a modern edge against all the beautiful wild flowers. The tipi reception gave a rustic twist and was filled with so stunning touches.
Sarah and Craig were married on 4th May 2019 at Upper House, Hayfield in the Peak District. ‘I knew I wanted somewhere quite remote but that was still accessible for our friends & family. I’m originally from Leicester & Craig is from Liverpool, but we live in Manchester so it had to be easy to get to from these places. I searched mainly through Instagram & had narrowed my search down to just two venues on the outskirts of Manchester. Upper House was the first one I booked in to see and I knew it was the right place as soon as we saw it & we didn’t need to visit anywhere else! We had 115 guests for day and 130 in total for the evening. We got engaged on 13th October 2017 (Friday 13th!) so we had around 18 months to plan the wedding. We did the big things first like a venue, caterers etc in the first 6 months then we didn’t seem to do much until about 3/4 months before the day – we’re pretty laid back about organising!’
How they met
It was our 10 year anniversary a couple of weeks before we got married. We met at Manchester University – the first time I saw Craig he was wearing a glittery thong collecting money (& getting waxed!) at a charity event! Then we ended up meeting by chance a few days later at a Rubics Cube fancy dress night where you had to swap clothes to end up in certain colours… I judge myself for my attraction to him despite never seeing him in normal clothes!
We were on holiday on Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays, Australia. It was our last night on the island & we had gone out for a nice meal. Afterwards we drove a golf buggy up to the highest point on the island (there are no cars just buggies there!) where Craig got down on one knee in front of the buggy headlights and asked me to marry him. Unfortunately, instead of ‘yes’ the first words out of my mouth was, ‘As if!!’ He soon got the yes he was waiting for though! We then had to sit outside a bank for the next few hours messaging all our family and friends as this was the only place we could find wifi!!
How did you allocate your budget?
We wrote down as much as we could think about that we would need to spend money on, such as photographers/dress/decorations etc and guest-imated what these would be so we had a rough idea of the total budget. We then just kept track of what we were booking/paying for along the way so we could see how closely we were sticking to the original budget. We soon discovered weddings were a lot more expensive than we originally anticipated though!
Where did you splurge and where did you save?
The biggest splurges would probably be on the venue itself and my dress. But we saved money on flowers – our florist Kirsty did amazing job on our bouquets, table decorations and hexagon photo wall. However, we used faux flowers & bulk bought hop bines for the larger areas we needed to decorate such as the outdoor staircase and large circular light fittings in the tipi and Great Hall. You also get to keep them forever which is a bonus!
We saved money by not needing transport as we had the ceremony at the same venue as the reception. Also, my bridesmaids made the confetti cones themselves; my Mum hand wrote all the place card names; and I made the table plan display and table names myself.
How did you choose your photographer?
Out of all the decisions, I found it the hardest to choose a photographer as I didn’t want to get it wrong and not be happy with the photos. I knew I didn’t want anything too formal and posed, but then I didn’t want anything that looked like anyone could have taken it either. So, it was a hard balance to find! I had followed so many accounts on Instagram because I liked one photo they had taken but didn’t feel committed enough to contact any of them. I’d also been to a couple of wedding fairs but found everyone there was offering very traditional styles. I put it to the back of my mind for a few months and then vividly remember having a dream around January about no photographer turning up on the day so decided it was time to make a decision! I spent one evening unfollowing accounts I didn’t like more than one photo & in doing that I rediscovered Alice Cunliffe‘s account and I absolutely loved all of her photos because they were so light and natural. And thankfully she was available for my date too so it was meant to be!
Dress: The Aubrey Dress, Alice Temperley bought from Agape Bridal in Altrincham. Shoes: Kiki in Gold from Carvela
The suit and bridesmaids
Bridesmaids – I knew I didn’t want matching bridesmaid dresses so I ordered loads of different styles & colours from Asos and turned by Mums spare room into a shop for the day! The girls picked dresses which they liked and we thought worked well together. I didn’t want to pick a particular colour beforehand as everyone has different skin & hair tones so I wanted to make sure we found colours that worked for each person.
Suits – Harland Collier, based in Liverpool Met Quarter. Suits were Navy, Craig had a grey waistcoat and the groomsmen had a matching navy one. The boys all had a white shirts and a white polka dot & burgundy tie from Hawes & Curtis. Craig wore Loake shoes he already had. My gift to Craig was a dress watch by Wempe which I found on Watchfinder.
Theme or colour scheme
I didn’t have a theme in mind, I only knew that I wanted wild flowers with a mixture of colours and lots of green foliage. Then the bridesmaids picked dresses which ended up being lilac/pinks so that then helped decide the colour of the ties (burgundy) and colours for the table names & place cards. It all kind of fell into place one we had chosen the bridesmaid dresses really!
The only other theme that developed was hexagons! My engagement ring is a hexagon shape and we met & live in Manchester which famous for the worker bee so that became a subtle theme. My Uncle made us wooden hexagon frame which Kirsty decorated and we used as a back drop for guest pictures; I had bees on the napkins for serving the cake; the base layer of our cake was hexagon shaped; and I gave all my bridesmaids hexagon necklaces to remember the day by! Luckily, I run my own lifestyle business, Shmyls.com, which sells homewares & jewellery so sourcing hexagon products wasn’t too much trouble!
I worked with Kirsty from The Wilde. My bouquet had so many types of British Spring flowers including peonies, roses, sweet peas & lots of foliage too. They were stunning! My flowers had strong colours and then the bridesmaids were similar but with more pastel colours. Kirsty did such a fantastic job of understanding my Pinterest boards and turning ideas from my head into reality!
We also had two large floral displays either side of the ceremony area which were a bigger version of our bouquets. We used the bouquets as decoration on the top table during the wedding breakfast and also moved the two large displays into the tipi so we could enjoy them again!
The venue has a gorgeous courtyard with festoon lighting where we served the canapes and cake after the ceremony. We wanted to put a few extra things in here to look at whilst guests were chatting & eating! My Uncle made us a wooden hexagon frame which Kirsty beautifully decorated and we left a polaroid camera nearby for guests to take their pictures & hang them in the middle of the frame.
We also made a display of some of our pictures before we knew each other & then of our relationship so far. Some were pretty embarrassing!
The rest of the decorations included our flowers, both real & faux, and hundreds of candles & lanterns dotted around!
A BBQ! The best BBQ food I have ever eaten! Our caterers were Vanilla in all Seasons and they produced amazing food. We had canapes after the ceremony of mini burgers, Yorkshire puddings, Cumberland sausages, salmon & beetroot blinis and we also served our cake as the final canape as we decided to cut the cake straight after the ceremony.
We didn’t need a starter as the canapes were pretty substantial and so was the main course!
We had Sea bass; Pork, dry-rubbed with spices and a tomato and chilli dressing; Chicken thigh with lime, coriander and chilli; 2 kilo rib eye Cheshire steak. Side options of sweet potato, feta, pine nuts and harissa; Warm new potatoes with pancetta and spinach; Pea, broad bean & crispy pancetta with a mint dressing; Handmade artisan breads.
For desert we had a mini trio of warm sticky toffee apple pudding with a toffee sauce and vanilla custard served in a Kilner jar; Eton mess shot and Chocolate brownie with a clotted cream.
For our evening food we had Truffle Mac & Cheese, Beef Burgers & Chicken & Chips
We had two cakes! We had a three tier semi-naked cake of Victoria sponge, chocolate and lemon & was decorated using faux flowers I bought from Country Baskets. This cake was made by a family friend, Dawn Ashworth. Then we had Mr & Mrs Colin the Caterpillar cakes from M&S which we served after the evening food which went down very well!
We used a band called Echo Drive from Leicester – they were fantastic! The lead singer Calder sang Kodaline, The One whilst I walked down the aisle and he sang for a further hour or so during the reception drinks afterwards – his voice is incredible! The 4 piece band then played two hour long sets in the evening with a DJ set in between. The band were absolutely amazing, we couldn’t have asked for anything better – the dance floor was full all night! They played the right balance of current and older songs so everyone was enjoying it – even Craig’s Grandma was on the dance floor all night too!
Who supplied the stationery?
We used Papier for our Save the Dates & Wedding Invites. We just wanted something quite simple as we had set up a website which included more details on so we didn’t need too much information going out with the invites.
My Mum had been learning calligraphy so she wrote the place card names. And I designed and printed the table names & plan myself at home – I bought some lovely linen paper to print them on to make them a bit more special and laminated them too.
We had a couple of food menus printed for each table from Vista Print – they had an offer on too which meant they only cost me £2.50 plus delivery! That was the bargain of the whole wedding!
My Dad passed away several years ago and we wanted to somehow acknowledge that he wasn’t there. So instead of wedding favours we designed a postcard which included pictures of me and him to go at every place setting and explaining for each person at the wedding we have made a donation to the British Heart Foundation in his memory.
My Nana wasn’t able to attend our wedding either as she is in a care home with dementia but I wore her wedding band on the day and still wear it now so part of her was with us that day.
We were so lucky that our venue allowed us access several days before the Wedding so we were able to do a lot of the decorating ourselves – we decorated the large circular light fittings in the tipi and Great Hall with hop bines & faux flowers, put up the fairy lights ourselves in the tipi, dressed the external staircase in the courtyard and put out the candles & lanterns. We had 30 guests arriving on the Friday (the day before the Wedding) who were staying at the venue that night so we had such a lovely catch up and (small-ish!) celebration the night before which was so just perfect.
Our speeches were phenomenal – we were laughing (& crying!) for just over an hour and everyone commented on how good they were. I can’t wait to watch them back on our video when it arrives!
The most special moment has to be walking down the aisle with our family friend Stuart as the ‘step-in’ Father of the Bride and seeing Craig, his two best men and Vic (my Maid of Honour) with them all in tears and I just remember being so happy and excited that it was actually happening! We got married at 2pm so it felt like quite a long morning getting ready so when I finally saw Craig it was such a lovely moment.
Advice for other couples
The day is about you two so do whatever it is that makes you happy. We had so much fun making/decorating things ourselves and that made it feel so much more personal. The best thing about weddings is that everyone does it differently to suit them so roll with that and it’ll end up just how you wanted it. Don’t compare yourself or your budget against anyone else – it’s your day and it’ll end up perfect.
That I didn’t feel nervous once! I really expected to feel some nerves before the ceremony, but I wasn’t at all I was just so excited to see Craig, get married and have the best celebration with all our family & friends!
I currently live in Southampton, but soon I’ll be living in Norfolk! Although I’m based in the UK, I photograph worldwide. I find joy in adventuring further afield and discovering the beautiful hidden gems of this world! My approach to wedding photography is hugely personal, joyful and natural. I genuinely care for all my couples and want them to feel free to be themselves on their wedding day. My style is elegant, romantic and creative. I use a lot of natural light and my editing style keeps everything light and fresh!
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