I honestly don’t know where to begin — the sunlight flooding through the windows of Broadoaks Country House Hotel near Coniston will take your breath away. Emma’s red wedding dress from Coast is simply stunning (I knew I recognised it… it got a mention at the end of this blog post from February where I claimed this dress as Mine! Revisiting this blog post made me smile).
But more than anything else, Paul and Emma’s wedding report will stir the romance in every single one of you. It did for me: a couple so much in love they spent their day holding back happy tears, whose advice for you all is to:
“Do it your way, don’t feel pressured to have certain elements because you (or others) think you should, most of those thing won’t matter on the day, it’s about people, not things.”
Paul and Emma’s intimate, beautiful Cumbria wedding
Who proposed, and how?
I proposed to Emma on her birthday. I knew we wouldn’t be happy with an ‘off the shelf’ ring, and thought it better for Emma to be involved in the process, so used a proposal ring, engraved with the words ‘Marry me?’, and had arranged an appointment that day to see a jeweller to discuss bespoke designs. So Emma sketched some ideas on the back of an paper bag(!), and that formed the basis of the final design, a white and rose gold ring with a pear shaped diamond and blue moonstone.
Wedding venue: Broadoaks Country House Hotel, Troutbeck, Cumbria.
We were only planning a small wedding (27 guests), intended to have the ceremony outside and only had a limited budget. However not many venues offered weddings outside, and most were more focused on larger numbers. Luckily Emma’s sister Sarah (one of our bridesmaids) came across Broadoaks, a lovely country house in the Lake District, outdoor ceremonies an option, and the only venue we’d seen that was available for exclusive use for a wedding of our size, within our budget if we booked a date no more than 4 months in advance. On our first visit it felt perfect for us, we booked and had 16 weeks to plan and arrange… everything!
Wedding photographer: Anurag Sharma, Shutterleaf Photography.
We met Anurag at a wedding fair, about a year before we even found a venue, and as soon as we saw his work knew that he was going to be our photographer. While many photographers offer documentary/reportage style packages, very few have Anurag’s artistic eye and creative skill, his work was so much more striking than anything else we’d seen. He also offered a ‘pre-wedding’ photo shoot, which we thought was a really good idea to enable us to get used to being photographed, and this proved to be the case.
What did you wear?
Bride: ‘Kelly Maxi’ dress by Coast, black lace shrug from Next, ‘Windsor’ red shoes by Irregular Choice.
Groom: A slate gray Hugo Boss suit (and watch-a wedding day present from Emma), floral red tie by Robert Charles, buttonhole handcrafted by the bride!
How would you describe your wedding style?
The red and black color theme came from Emma’s striking wedding dress, complemented by the simple and stylish bridesmaids’ dresses. Also, it was a very ‘handmade’ wedding, with many elements created by Emma.
The wedding ceremony:
Which readings did you choose? “Touched By An Angel” by Maya Angelou, read by Emma’s best friend and bridesmaid Ellie, “I Will Be Here” by Steven Curtis Chapman, read by Paul’s sister Julia (also a bridesmaid), and we read “I Promise” by Dorothy R. Colgan (taking alternate lines) as additional vows.
Wedding day advice:
When looking for suppliers, don’t stick to specific wedding-related retailers, you can achieve a more unique effect (and save money) by looking elsewhere and adapting items not necessarily intended for weddings. Some of our table decorations were adapted ornaments from Next, others were our own wine glasses with a simple floral arrangement inside. Our outfits were from the high-street.
We found only having a limited time to plan and arrange the wedding focused our minds, we had to make realistic choices as to what we wanted, and what we could achieve. This often resulted in us going for a handmade or adapted option, which was more personal, it was ‘our’ day.
Do it your way, don’t feel pressured to have certain elements because you (or others) think you should, most of those thing won’t matter on the day, it’s about people, not things.
We had such a lovely, memorable day, planned in a fraction of the time many people have, on a much smaller budget. It can be done, be creative!
What were your wedding highlights?
The Lake District weather had no regard for our plans for an outdoor service, and the intermittent rain through the morning meant that by midday it was clear that we would be married inside. However, the Music Room at Broadoaks was a perfect alternative, we don’t think we would have found a venue with a better indoor option, and the service was exactly what we wanted, intimate and emotional.
The wedding breakfast was delicious (as was the meal we enjoyed on the previous night after we arrived at the hotel). All in all we couldn’t fault the venue, the staff were very accommodating, the wedding coordinator Jo made sure everything was decorated and arranged how we’d envisaged it, and the overall atmosphere ensured we had a relaxed and stress-free day.
Wedding venue styling and details:
The wedding was mainly ‘handmade’, Emma made all of the stationery (invitations, place cards, guest book), most of the decorative elements (paper pom-poms, paper flowers, button flower posies), the favours, and also the beautiful button bouquets and buttonholes.
We asked our parents for any old buttons they had (all mothers have a tin of old buttons), many of which were incorporated. These included some that had originally come from our grandmothers, meaning that 3 generations were represented in the bouquets.
Emma’s mother created the floral arrangements, and a friend made the wedding cake, topped with handmade Batman and Wonder Woman peg dolls (our house is home to a roost of bats) from Etsy (American, ‘Not On The High Street’-type website). All of this made our day unique and personal, a family, hand-crafted affair.
Memorable wedding day moments:
Emma: walking down the aisle with my son, Joe (10), holding back tears, the speeches given by Joe and Paul (again, holding back tears) and our first dance… again, holding back tears… generally trying to hold back tears for most of the day!
Paul: seeing my beautiful bride for the first time (holding back tears… there’s a theme developing here), Joe’s speech (we had no idea what he was going to say, and it exceeded both of our expectations, he was great), getting through my own speech with laughter and tears at the appropriate parts!
Wedding music and entertainment:
We provided all of the music with our iPods. For the ceremony we spent many hours choosing string quartet versions of songs from an eclectic selection of our favorite bands (from Michael Jackson to Muse) by the Vitamin String Quartet… they really amused us, and had the desired effect as we watched people slowly twig what they were hearing.
For the evening we had a dance floor, allowing us to play the expected wedding disco favourites, after our first dance to Florence + The Machine’s version of ‘Halo’ (a song that always makes Emma cry), while in the Music Room Paul’s father hosted a wedding themed quiz, arousing some competitive spirit between the various participating teams.
Paul and Emma’s recommended wedding suppliers:
We found it hard to find a venue and suppliers prepared to cater to a small wedding party. As a result most aspects we created ourselves, but thanks and recommendations to the following:
Broadoaks Country House Hotel
A lovely venue with a warm, welcoming, family atmosphere. http://www.broadoakscountryhouse.co.uk/
Anurag Sharma, Shutterleaf Photography.
His work speaks for itself, but alongside this he is also a lovely guy, and he worked so hard for us on the day, while never being intrusive. An absolute star. [I couldn’t agree more! Anurag is fantastic. Claire] http://www.shutterleaf.co.uk/