So here it is. The post I have been so excited to share ever since the big day happened! I want to tell you all about it!
I will be doing some more posts going in to more detail about individual things like flowers and other important details but this post is a summary of the whole day.
If you have been following me for a little while now then it is no secret that I got married this year. The photos and information about the day however was pretty secret and as a blogger who likes to blog about everything it was the most difficult thing ever trying not to tell you all things before the big day happened! The biggest thing was keeping the dress a secret and MY GOD it is difficult not telling your other half! Every so often I would go to say something to him about my dress or show him a photo as I tell him everythinggg and keeping this a secret from my husband-to-be was hard!
Pretty much everything you see in this blog post can be hired, organised or sourced by my mum’s wedding/event management company shesgottit.com. Whether it is lighting, entertainment, food, props, decor, transport, flowers or even the venues, she can certainly help you with as little or as much as you want. My entire wedding was done by my mum and her team. My husband works for my mum and I used to so we are essentially a family of wedding/event planners and this is what happened when it was our own wedding to plan!
Majority of the photos are taken by the talented Andy Gaines with a couple added in from a guest.
We had the ceremony and reception at Lambton Castle in Chester-le-street, Durham. This castle is not open to the public and is a bit of an empty shell. It is absolutely stunning and hidden away, surrounded by lawns, trees, nature and it goes on for miles. You really couldn’t get more exclusive than this venue! We chose it because with us being a family of wedding planners/event managers we wanted to do our own thing. Screw booking a package! We wanted to do every single tiny detail ourselves and for everything there to be our ideas and our creation. We wanted a blank (but stunning) canvas that wasn’t a ‘popular’ wedding venue location and this was it!
Whilst the wedding was held in a castle we had also exclusively booked the huge manor house called Biddick Hall which was hidden away on the same grounds as the castle. Both could not be seen from each other and it was still a little journey through the woods to get to the Castle from the Manor house. We had exclusive use of both venues and we stayed at the manor house the evening of the wedding and I got ready there with my bridesmaids on the morning too. They were both venues used in the BBC TV series The Paradise. I actually remember them filming there and the BBC had secured the castle and manor house for 10 years. I remember being devastated thinking, well that’s a wedding there out of the question then in the near future. However my luck was in as the Paradise was cancelled (sorry BBC!) and they then stopped filming there and released the venues.
On the morning I was pretty calm the whole time until about 1 hour before. I was pretty tired getting up at 6am but everything was going so smoothly from the moment I got up so that helped me stay quite calm (alcohol certainly helped too). It was raining but not too heavily and I was quite pleased after all the thunderstorms we’d been having recently. We all headed to the manor house to start getting ready and to meet with makeup artists and the hair stylist. We all turned up in our pj’s so we could enjoy lounging around being pampered and drinking fizz and we had lots of laughs and emotional times.
To tie in with my colour theme we went for very warm colours such as nudes and golds for makeup. All the bridesmaids loved their makeup, which was done by the very talented Makeup artists from The Olivia Naylor Salon in Prestwitch. Olivia is a celebrity makeup artist who opened up her own salon and I always knew I wanted to book her and her team. I travelled all the way to Manchester just to have a trial and paid for them to travel to me in Durham just so I could have my makeup done by them!
The hair was done by a stylist I knew who worked for Toni & Guy and we chose a curly down style to go with my hair band for my hair and a pretty up-do for bridesmaids which really worked well with their hair accessory. I got the Bridesmaids opinions on hair and makeup previously as I wanted them to be happy and everyone loved what we chose.
The Men got ready at my parent’s house which was actually 5-10 mins from the venue and accommodation and then they all headed straight to the castle from there when it was time. Apparently they had a good few drinks to ‘calm the nerves’ and there is definitely photographic evidence of this thanks to the photographer nipping over to my parent’s house to grab some shots (not the alcohol kind!).
Some of you may have read my post last year about how I actually won my wedding dress! Yes I actually got my wedding dress completely free!! I won it through a competition in Love Our Wedding Magazine and I had the choice of any Modeca gown up to the value of £2000! Their dresses are truly stunning so as you can imagine I was beyond excited and it felt like a dream come true! The dress I chose was the Modeca Sydney which was a drop waist style, quite full on the bottom with beautiful applique and net and a sweetheart neckline. It was quite antique looking with just a bit of sparkle and was perfect for my enchanted castle/fairytale theme. The shoes I wore with the dress were the Jewel Badgeley Mischka Conroy shoes and I had a Warren York floral full crown/headband and a Liza Designs Veil.
The Girls and The Guys
Choosing what the bridesmaids/groomsmen wore was quite difficult. Trying to suit everyone and make sure they were comfortable (which was important to me) was definitely a challenge. I ended up going for multi-way dresses from Debenhams which were actually half price when I bought them. I got 2 dresses in a blush pink colour and 3 in a nude/silvery colour (which is no longer available to buy). I actually tied a lot of things in with the bridesmaid dress colours as they were one of the first things I got. I wasn’t super strict with my colours and there were a lot of wood and plants at the wedding and this colour really worked well with it. The bridesmaids were also given a pair of pretty nude heels (that they all agreed on) that were chosen from shoeaholics.co.uk teamed with a Miss KG clutch bag also from there. In their hair they had a clip that matched my headband from the same designer.
We matched the groomsmen with the bridesmaids with their ties, pocket square and button hole. We also alternated them with the nude/pink colour. Their suits were actually the Jaspe Slim Fit suit from Burton and trying to get all the right sizes in the same suit was a challenge to say the least! We decided to get the groom the same suit in grey and to tie the groomsmen in we bought the same grey waistcoat for them that the groom wore and mixed up the blue colour suit with a bit of grey which worked well.
Our little man wanted to match his daddy. Since Burton don’t do children’s suits I needed to have one made. I found somewhere in China on Ebay that could do this for us and they were brilliant. They just asked for my son’s measurements, a photo of the suit for inspiration and that was it. It arrived within 2 weeks and was near enough perfect and a pretty good quality too, not thin at all. He looked so cute in his suit and was so proud to match his daddy. His brown shoes were from Next and they were gorgeous but so hard and uncomfortable for little guy.
There was only one way I just had to get to the castle for my Fairytale wedding and that was by horse and carriage! What a stunning carriage it was from Film Horses UK in their Ivory Glass coach and the journey through the forest to get to the castle was amazing. It really did feel like something from a film and being surrounded by all of the trees and being picked up from the big manor house just made it so special. What was even better was that both my dad and my little man came with me in the carriage. There was no way I was travelling in something as exciting looking as that without my little prince! Plus it was a very big day for him too!
I remember really feeling the nerves when I arrived at the Castle! We were running really late and I remember it all being a bit of a blur from the moment I arrived. I could hear my walking down the aisle song being played which was a cover of ‘I get to love you’ by Ruelle performed by the amazingly talented sisters Liv N G. I remember thinking, Oh My God this is it! The Bridesmaids went down the aisle first and then I went after a little gap. I remember walking down thinking, Damn, I wish I had got some contact lenses so I could see my husband-to-be’s reaction. He was a little distance from me when I entered the room and I struggle to see far away! I do remember getting closer to him and my eyes finally focusing and seeing his beaming smile which just melted me and made me feel more calm!
After I came down the aisle to my husband we both turned and looked back up the aisle as it was time for our baby boy to walk down. He had practised this over and over at home and he was so proud to carry the rings (they were inside a silver rose ring holder). Minutes before he walked down the aisle he had been crying his eyes out as his new shoes gave him blisters. I asked him right before going down if he could do it for his mummy and daddy and smile and he said yes mummy, I want to do it and be a clever boy, I want to walk with the flower and give daddy the rings. This meant the world to me that at 3 years old he did that and he wiped the tears from his eyes and walked perfectly down the aisle. He could have just had a tantrum and said no but he didn’t want to let us down and he was the perfect little prince. He had his shoes off for pretty much the entire wedding after that and I didn’t blame him!
We had written our own personal promises which I have to say spookily matched up at times where we said very similar things. It did provide a bit of humour but they were beautiful and I have to admit, as someone who doesn’t cry much, this is where I broke. I did struggle to hold back the tears a bit whilst reading mine and my brain was struggling to allow me to repeat the super short vows! I managed but I did almost forget what I was meant to say at one point!
The decor of the ceremony room was quite a lot of work to do. It involved putting up scaffolding and very carefully attaching fabric draped from the chandelier without damaging anything. The castle was old and empty and not perfect but that is exactly what we wanted. We didn’t want shiny new, we wanted old, with character and an enchanted antique feel. This was the perfect canvas to work with! We had the beautiful flower arch made and imported from China and we knew this would work perfect. We added lots of candles and flowers and plants around the room and this made the already beautiful room look like something out of a fairy tale book. Everything you see can be hired/created by my mums company.
At the end of the ceremony we did something called a ‘rose ceremony’. A rose symbolises eternal love and we both gave one to each other and the Registra said some beautiful things about what it meant and then we handed the roses to our mother-in-laws. Finally we signed the register and then posed for a few photos before walking out to our other song choice. We had chosen a cover of ‘How does a moment last forever – Celine Dion‘ also performed by the the singer and pianist and they made the song beautiful and took away the cheesy music from the original. like that it was over and I could breathe again, I couldn’t believe how fast the ceremony flew over. We walked out hand in hand as the new Mr and Mrs Francis and I think you can see from the smiles on our faces we were so happy!
After the ceremony we went in to the marquee which was on the side of the castle for welcome drinks and canapes. It was still raining a bit but it was very light rain so we didn’t mind. We had a pimp your prosecco bar which went down so so well. There is a list of things that I would say were so so worth doing and this was definitely up there as a must! Everyone was raving about it and it was well used for the welcome drinks and for the rest of the day and evening. In fact I continued just drinking prosecco all day just so I could keep using the bar. You could add glitter and flavoured syrups and things including vanilla and peach!
We had a sweetie buffet/castle which had a great selection of sweets for the little kids (and big kids) to enjoy. We had a photobooth also in this area and lots of comfy chairs and some tables for people to stand and enjoy their drinks and canapes.
After our drinks reception we did all of the planned photos. This was rather stressful I have to admit! We worked our way through what felt like a bazillion photos with family and friends then went off to grab just a few of us on our own. By the time it got to the photos with family and friends my hair wasn’t looking it’s best anymore but I didn’t have the time or the energy to sort it to be honest. It’s amazing how many people knock your hair on the day or accidentally tug on your veil. So by this point my hair was less curly and more straggly.
We were both quite exhausted by the time it came to having photos together. I knew they were important and I would regret not having any done but I was just so tired and wanted to go sit down and have my food. We decided to make the most of the beautiful surroundings however so we went off for a little walk in to the woods to find some beautiful spots. We got some really pretty photos but some of my favourites are the ones the photographer took when we were just walking along quite relaxed together.
Once we finished photos we got to head in to the main room and everyone was amazed at the decor! It was like stepping in to a dream. We had a big realistic looking 12ft tree in the middle of the room which we had also had made and imported from China and had hanging flower chandeliers and plants everywhere. We had a few hints of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ with Floating rose centrepieces and a wonky clock who kept our beautiful cake company. There were also candelabras and lots of candles around the room which made it super pretty. All of the things you see here can also be hired/created by my mum’s company She’s Gott It.
The Speeches were so funny and were rather long! My dad and the best man had really taken the opportunity to bring up some rather interesting and funny stories! We definitely laughed and also shed a tear and it was great to go back over some of the fun memories. We had food after the speeches which was amazing and everyone was raving about the wedding breakfast! It was very tasty but to be honest by that point I would have eaten anything as I was so hungry! The great thing about picking a venue that had nothing was that we could choose whatever we wanted to have there. This was also the case for the catering and we weren’t limited with an already set package. We could pick who we wanted and exactly what food we wanted from the canapes to the 3 course dinner. We actually gave guests a choice for their food with 2 different starters, 3 different mains and a dessert that was a trio of different things. The children also had their own menu and all of the food was so good. We chose Ramside catering to provide the food and the bar and they really were amazing. They really went out of their way to make sure everything was perfect. A good example is when we went for the tasting previously we were saying to staff how much we loved the vegetarian option but we were going to pick the meat dishes. So on our wedding day they organised for us to have a vegetarian meal to share between us as well as the mains we had picked. I certainly won’t say no to an extra meal!
The sun came out just as we sat down for the meal and stayed out for the duration of the day. It was the perfect weather and it meant that once food was finished people could enjoy the beautiful outdoors. We had outdoor giant games which the kids loved and a huge big grass throne and props all provided by my mums company. The bar was also opened during the meal which was just along the corridor from the main room and people could go grab a drink and then head outside and enjoy the sunshine until the night time do started!
The evening started at 7.30pm and the castle was transformed with lighting for the night time. The tables were moved to the side and the DJ set up. We had also converted the ceremony room in to another chill out room with sofas and a table full of food such as meats, cheeses, breads and more. A lot of the parents with little babies went in here to have a bit of quiet with the babies or to feed them on comfy sofas. I wasn’t sure how much this room would get used but it was actually used a lot. It was also where my little man ended up passed out at the end of the night.
We had rehearsed our first dance and had just one 1 hour lesson and we were so nervous when it came the time to do it. We don’t dance together very often and when we do it is when the hubby has had a few too many drinks and it is far from romantic or emotional! We wanted to rehearse something for this reason and we managed to do it with no mistakes to my amazement. Our fabulous first dance was all thanks to a lovely lady called Christina Francotte who managed to teach us in just one lesson. The song we danced to was ‘I am always gonna love you’ by Jon Mclaughlan which is just a beautiful song with beautiful words. I wanted something that wasn’t popular and people had never heard and I am a big fan of Jon who isn’t very well known here in the UK. I then had a father daughter dance with my dad to ‘It won’t be like this for long’ by Darius Rucker.
Once the first dance was over I could breathe and it was time for the evening food. As well as the room with meats and cheeses etc. we also had wood fired pizzas being made outside by a company called Earth and Fire followed by chocolate doughballs also made in the oven. People thought I was mad having pizza at the wedding and said I would need other food too. So I provided the table in the other room with various things and that table was hardly even touched. The pizza station was however constantly busy and people were raving about them all night. They weren’t greasy horrible pizzas, they were proper Italian style and super yummy and they even did gluten free ones. People could choose between a few different toppings and it was great for adults and kids.
We had a lot of entertainment for the evening including an amazing band called Hip Hop Hooray and a comedy duo called Bread and Butter. Hip Hop Hooray were a band we saw once together and we just loved them! They get every single person up dancing and they do really amazing and fun covers of popular songs. The comedy duo, we just had to book. It wouldn’t have been right if they weren’t there. My mum has used them for a huge amount of her events over the years and because of this we have them at any big family occasion or event. You see these cheesy comedy acts and they either aren’t very funny or just make you cringe. This is so not the case with these two as they are just naturally funny and have people crying with laughter. They do the same kind of jokes/show each time and we STILL think its hilarious and want to see it over and over. So many people thought they were total legends and they really did complete the day for us by adding more laughter and fun.
There was a fake bar at the other end of the castle from when the Paradise was filmed there and it was left there by the BBC. It was really cool and looked like a proper old bar and was just a set built in a room in the castle. Obviously after a few drinks some of the guys decided it would be fun to go mess around in there and I found them all in the bar with their Cigars and drinks. There was also a big coffin prop hidden behind the set that we knew was there from previous visits to the castle so of course they had to mess around in that too. It’s the simple things! They certainly made for some fun and interesting photos later on!
So doing up an entire castle that didn’t even have power or toilets never mind furniture or anything else was certainly a challenge. Luckily for me my mum and her company knew what to do and there was nothing stopping us from making it a dream wedding venue. Pretty much the entire wedding was organised by my mums company (so if you see anything you like, you know who to contact!) from decor and entertainment to food and lighting.
We made all of our flowers and bouquets ourselves as there is nothing worse than real flowers either covered in flies or being followed by wasps at summer weddings (my worst nightmare). This has been my experience at all weddings with real flowers in summer and it drove me crazy. Also by the end of the day some of the flowers really don’t look their best because lets face it they aren’t meant to be in heat with no water for hours on end, so real flowers just weren’t for me. It’s amazing how realistic some fake flowers are nowadays and we used a mix of Latex and silk flowers. No one realised they were fake until touching them and people were really shocked. We still spent quite a bit to make sure we got the most realistic looking flowers and plants but we still saved money making them ourselves. It did take a full 8 hours to make everything which really was exhausting but really rewarding.
The Confetti that we were covered in as we had photos was actually dried petals. I wanted something that wouldn’t be littering the venue with there being so many animals in the area so this was a great alternative. Plus the petals looked really pretty and came in cute push pop containers. The daughter of my cousin who was a bridesmaid helped hand them out as Reid started and then wanted to go off and play! The super pretty confetti was from Shropshire petals.
The Placemats were also the favours for guests to keep. These went down so so so well! You hear of people saying their favours were a waste of money as people just left them but these certainly weren’t!! Everyone except just a couple of people remembered to take theirs home at the end of the evening even when very drunk without even being prompted. People absolutely loved them and said they were amazing gifts. They were made from real tree trunk and had a rose and names carved in to the wood along with the wedding date. I definitely think these were in my top 5 list of the most worthwhile thing at the wedding.
The chairs were quite simple but looked really pretty. We used the same chairs for the ceremony for the wedding breakfast and staff quickly and discreetly moved them over whilst guests were non the wiser having drinks and canapes. They had some Chiffon tied around them and then a pink rose and some green vines attached. The chairs were cream wooden chiavari chairs and they were simple but perfect for what we wanted and we didn’t want to completely cover them.
We had a table with our guestbook on and ‘a times capsule’ which was a box with a bottle of champagne, glasses and some beautiful keepsakes. After the wedding the guestbook was added in along with some wedding cards and things from the wedding, this was then closed and will be reopened on our first anniversary. It gives you something to look forward to and I can’t wait to read the guestbook with all of the marriage advice!
My mum actually made the wedding cake and there were 3 layers. The bottom was a chocolate orange cake which is our favourite, the middle was plain sponge and the top was a gluten free cake. The cake table was made out of solid wood and was another prop we had specially made. The heart with our initials carved on to it was actually something we could keep and we can make new ones for anyone else hiring the table and it is just hooked on.
Next to the cake we had our ‘wonky clock’ which is obviously very Beauty and the Beast. I love that it looks quite animated and like it’s alive. We had this prop specially made and it is a real working clock. We now have it in our living room! Although if it needs to be hired out we may just have to part with it every now and again!
Our centrepieces were floating roses in glass domes. They really looked like they were floating and they lit up and looked amazing. They were stood on top of big log slices and real moss was added. These have since been enquired about so much for future wedding bookings as of course they are stunning. They really did look like real enchanted roses! Each one took 2 hours of blood, sweat and tears to make (thanks mum and dad!) and you can’t get them anywhere else!
For our table plan we had this stunning gold mirror. It went perfectly with the theme and we added a couple of roses to bring in the colour scheme. We had the table plan printed out and then stuck it on to the mirror. We then had the mirror propped up on a stand and it was the first thing guests saw as they entered the main room.
So if you got this far down the post and you aren’t totally sick of looking at wedding photos, then well done! I still feel that there are some photos I haven’t included above that are totally worth showing and that really do sum up the day so here they are for you to have a look at. I really feel our photographer captured the day perfectly.