Lifestyle Magazine

A Wow Factor Wedding: Peacock Feathers, Gold Dress and a Fairytale Castle!

By Claire

It’s very, very dif­fi­cult to know where to start! Rachel’s gold, bespoke wed­ding dress by Terry Fox is breath­tak­ing. The theme for the day — pea­cock feath­ers and a riot of color — works beau­ti­fully. The atten­tion to detail with every­thing from invi­ta­tions to brides­maids and but­ton­holes is sheer indul­gence and I love every lit­tle bit of it. The wed­ding pho­tographs speak of love — the way Rachel looks at Neil (and vice versa) is so roman­tic. The wed­ding venue — round the cor­ner from my very own apart­ment! — is mag­nif­i­cent and full of character.

Once again I feel I should intro­duce a glo­ri­ous and excit­ing wed­ding with a ringmaster’s flour­ish: you will LOVE read­ing about and see­ing Rachel and Neil’s ele­gant, fun, infor­mal, colour­ful and quirky wed­ding. Rachel’s writ­ten a bril­liant wed­ding report to share with you — thanks ever so much, Rachel! With thanks also to Steve Hill­man for shar­ing his lovely images of the day with us all today. Enjoy! Claire xxx

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (2)

Rachel and Neil’s vibrant Muncaster Cas­tle wedding

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (3)

Who pro­posed, and how?

Neil pro­posed to me in Jan­u­ary 2010 on a trip to New York dur­ing a walk through Cen­tral Park. It was no secret to our fam­ily and friends how much I wanted to get mar­ried so I was so happy when Neil asked me after 6 and half years together. I got to choose my own ring which he bought there in New York.

Wed­ding venue: Muncaster Cas­tle

We chose Muncaster Cas­tle in Raven­glass, Cum­bria as our wed­ding venue. I really wanted a wow fac­tor venue for the cer­e­mony as this is essen­tially the most impor­tant part of the day. I knew I was going to love it before I even walked in and if I’m hon­est I had actu­ally been look­ing at venues online for a while before Neil even pro­posed! I’m so fussy I thought it might save a bit of time if I had an idea of places I’d like see when the time came. I looked at hun­dreds of venues on line and nar­rowed it down to 4. Neil was happy to let me have the venue I wanted but I still dragged him round with me!

As nei­ther of us is reli­gious we chose to have a civil cer­e­mony, and because it’s such a beau­ti­ful cas­tle I didn’t feel like we were miss­ing out on the beau­ti­ful pho­tographs and atmos­phere you get from a church wed­ding because the great hall where we were mar­ried was just as spe­cial. It has very dra­matic rich red and wood pan­elled walls which date from the medieval age, with pic­tures of past ances­tors adorn­ing the walls in ornate gold frames, with a huge fire place and a beau­ti­ful bay win­dow to marry in front of look­ing into the gar­dens. Not only is the venue stun­ning but the staff who work there are amaz­ing espe­cially Sue the wed­ding coor­di­na­tor! Every­thing just ran smoothly from start to fin­ish. I would rec­om­mend this as a wed­ding venue to any­body. The cas­tle is actu­ally home to the Pen­ning­ton fam­ily and we were lucky enough to meet the owner on the day too.

Wed­ding pho­tog­ra­pher: Steve Hillman

Steve Hill­man, amaz­ing pho­tog­ra­pher! We both would highly rec­om­mended him, Unob­tru­sive, beau­ti­ful wed­ding pho­tog­ra­phy. Happy to lis­ten to ideas of your own which I had many!! Very rea­son­ably priced and just a really lovely guy.

How would you describe your wed­ding style?

Ele­gant, fun, infor­mal, colour­ful and quirky.

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (5)

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (6)

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (7)

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (8)

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (9)

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (10)

What did you wear?

Rachel — My dress was a haute cou­ture bespoke dress made by Terry Fox in Bury St Edmunds, which was a 6 hour drive from where I live but worth all the trav­el­ling I did. I knew I wanted a gold dress right from the start and had lots of ideas of what I wanted it to look like so I knew I wouldn’t be able to find one in a nor­mal bridal shop.

I came across an advert in a wed­ding mag­a­zine and as soon as I saw her dresses online I knew Terry was going to be per­fect! They were really dif­fer­ent and unusual. The whole process of design­ing my dress was amaz­ing but choos­ing the shade of gold was really hard from the small swatches as they look so dif­fer­ent when there is more of it to see, so I was really ner­vous when I went to see my dress nearly fin­ished in the shade I’d cho­sen but it was the per­fect shade. It was a 2 piece made from silk and tulle.

The corset was made up of sheer pieces of mate­r­ial and lace lay­ered over each other in dif­fer­ent shades with vin­tage brooches cas­cad­ing down on an angle, I really wanted a strap added to it so I opted to have this made out of gold lace which Terry added some sparkly embell­ish­ment to. I also wanted to have some sort of jew­ellery drap­ing onto my arm, Terry sourced an amaz­ing neck­lace to use made with AB crys­tals which sparkled amaz­ingly. The skirt was made up of lay­ers of tulle at the front and silk skirt to the sides and back with ruch­ing all around the edges and a split train with curved edges and a small bow at the top fin­ished off with a brooch. It was per­fect and I felt amaz­ing in it on the day. I would rec­om­mend Terry to any­body look­ing for some­thing a lit­tle bit different.

I didn’t want a veil as I thought it would detract from my dress and maybe look a bit too much. I knew what I wanted and searched the inter­net for months, I came across Mag­pie Vin­tage based in Read­ing who make their own jew­ellery from gen­uine vin­tage brooches. I came across a neck­lace and thought it would be per­fect to wear in my hair so they adapted it for me and it was so beau­ti­ful and matched my dress per­fectly. It was made up of cream and dif­fer­ent shades of small gold pearl, with a large gold flower and a large pearl at the front, they also made me a small neck­lace to hang at the back of my hair made up of AB crys­tals. My ear­rings were a Xmas present from my sis­ter in law. I was so excited when I opened them as they were exactly what I’d been look­ing for myself and couldn’t find, they were from Chic Unique. I also bought a bracelet from Etsy.

I wore shoes from Schuh by Irreg­u­lar Choice. They were metal­lic blue and gold with a gold flower and see through heel with flow­ers imprinted on them and dou­bled up as my some­thing blue. I loved them — they were so quirky and went per­fectly with my dress. My friend and brides­maid Cheryl gave me a beau­ti­ful garter which she’d had made with Mrs Har­ris on the front.

Neil and his grooms­men wore 3 piece navy blue morn­ing suits with pin­stripe trousers. Neil had a cra­vat made from the same mate­r­ial as my dress and a gold pocket watch which was a present from me on the morn­ing of the wed­ding which I’d had engraved. The grooms­men wore cra­vats made from the same mate­r­ial as the brides­maids’ dresses. They all wore stripey socks in the same color as their cra­vats which they loved.

The brides­maids all wore knee length, strap­less chif­fon dresses from Dessy in pur­ple, blue and green to match the pea­cock feather theme, and a pea­cock feather clip in their hair which I got from Pri­mark for £2!! I just added a pur­ple feather to them. I had pearl jew­ellery made in the same colours as the dresses espe­cially for them as a present which I got from Etsy.

About the wed­ding ceremony:

The cer­e­mony was so much more inti­mate than I imag­ined it would be: with our guests sur­round­ing us it was just per­fect. We had one read­ing read by my best friend and brides­maid Jemma. She read ‘on your wed­ding day’.

The wed­ding reception:

After the cer­e­mony we had a drinks recep­tion out­side with canapés. We were very lucky with the weather — it was a glo­ri­ous day so it was lovely to make use of the cas­tle front lawn and gor­geous gar­dens. We then went onto the speeches and a 3 course sit down meal. The food was amaz­ing and the speeches had us both in stitches. My sis­ter (chief brides­maid) and best man (Neil’s brother) both did such a good job as did Neil. He was given a crown to wear by his brother dur­ing the speech which he barely took off after­wards! I also received an adult sized bib from my sis­ter in law with Mrs Har­ris printed on the front, I loved it!

What were your wed­ding highlights?

  • Vis­it­ing venues with Neil, it was all so excit­ing. For me anyway!!
  • See­ing my dress fin­ished, it was the most amaz­ing dress, I loved it so much — it was every­thing I‘d imagined.
  • Plan­ning all the finer details which made our wed­ding per­sonal to us.

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (11)

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (12)

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (13)

Mem­o­rable wed­ding day moments:

  • Trav­el­ling to the cer­e­mony with my mam in the horse and car­riage in the sun­shine. It was just perfect.
  • Walk­ing down the aisle towards my very hand­some look­ing hus­band and say­ing our vows.
  • Putting on some of the props with all our wed­ding party run­ning down the lawn and act­ing like kids!
  • Play­ing in the park in the grounds on the swings and zip­wire with my brides­maids and also the sur­prise dance we did.
  • See­ing all our fam­ily and friends hav­ing a great time and enjoy­ing themselves.
  • The best man’s speech: he told some very funny sto­ries, some of them very rude!

Wed­ding day advice:

  • It isn’t too early to start plan­ning any­thing, the ear­lier the bet­ter espe­cially any DIY projects — they can be very time con­sum­ing as I found out when mak­ing my own invi­ta­tions but it’s very reward­ing when you’ve fin­ished and all your guests do appre­ci­ate the hard work you put in.
  • A wed­ding doesn’t have to be seri­ous all day, once the cer­e­mony is over have fun and be your­selves. We’ve had so many peo­ple say what a great time they had because it wasn’t too ‘stuffy’ and for­mal which it could eas­ily have been in a venue like a castle.
  • If there are a lot of peo­ple get­ting ready together in the morn­ing and you have some­body com­ing to do hair and make up, make an itin­er­ary so every­one knows what they should be hav­ing done and when and allow plenty of time. Time goes very fast and today is a day you don’t want to be run­ning late!

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (14)

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (15)

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (16)

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (17)

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (18)

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (19)

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (20)

Wed­ding venue styling and details:

I spent a lot of time on the details of the wed­ding. I had a def­i­nite idea in my head of what I wanted it to look like, it all came together per­fectly in the end. I loved the idea of hav­ing a really vibrant colour­ful wed­ding and using pea­cock feath­ers tied the look together.

I loved look­ing at beau­ti­fully dressed tables online dur­ing the plan­ning so I really wanted our tables to have the wow fac­tor liked the ones I’d seen. I had a lot of ideas of what I wanted it to look like.

I came across some gold charger plates in the range, they were per­fect. I then added pur­ple nap­kins with a pea­cock feather laid on top it looked really pretty and effec­tive. Each guest had a minia­ture gold frame with a photo of them instead a place card, which dou­bled up as their favour too which saved us some money it was very time con­sum­ing but worth every sec­ond. Every­body loved them and it’s lovely to see them on dis­play after­wards in their homes as a reminder of our day.

I didn’t want to see white any­where in our wed­ding other than the table cloths so I hunted down gold chair cov­ers which wasn’t easy. I had them made bespoke in the end, they were tied with a light gold organza bow and embell­ished with a pea­cock feather, and looked stun­ning in the room and really fin­ished off the whole look. For the cen­tre­pieces we opted for tall vases filled with bright pink, pur­ple, blue and green flow­ers and pea­cock feath­ers to match the theme with pearls on a wire wrapped around the vase — they looked beau­ti­ful. We re-used every­thing to dec­o­rate the func­tion room for the evening do with help from the wed­ding party.

For our cake we opted for a cup­cake tower with a round on top for us to cut. The cup­cakes were iced in green, pur­ple and blue but­ter cream and topped with pearls, glit­ter and feath­ers in gold fil­i­gree cake wrap­pers and dis­played on a clear stand. The cake round was metal­lic gold and topped with 2 beau­ti­ful pea­cocks perched on a gold bird­cage with a tea light inside with the pea­cock tail from Etsy cas­cad­ing down the side of the cakes. It tasted just as good as it looked. We opted for car­rot, choco­late, and lemon flavours. I arranged for Neil to have a groom’s cake made too as sur­prise. He loved it!

The flow­ers were really impor­tant to me and I did a lot of research on them so I knew what I was talk­ing about when I went to see our florist. They were fan­tas­tic and really under­stood the vision I had for the day. My bou­quet was made up of bright pink ger­beras, pur­ple lisianthus, green chrysan­the­mums, blue den­dro­bium orchids and pea­cock feath­ers and gold pearls on a wire. They also added some gold brooches. The brides­maids had smaller ver­sions of mine tied with a rib­bon to match their dress. The flow­ers really stand out in the pho­tographs and the pink really con­trasts beau­ti­fully with their dresses.

Wed­ding music and entertainment:

We chose to have a harpist play through­out the whole day. I walked down the aisle to the bridal march, I wouldn’t have cho­sen any­thing else and it sounded beau­ti­ful played on the harp. My mother and father in law and brides­maids walked in first to canon in D, and we walked out to the wed­ding march. Dur­ing the sign­ing of the reg­is­ter Neil’s cousin Bro­gan sang ‘A Won­der­ful World’ along with the harpist. She sounded beau­ti­ful and brought a tear to my eye and many of our guests. We also had Ever­long by the Foo Fight­ers played on the harp, which we also had as our first dance but chose the acoustic ver­sion, they are our favorite band. I think it’s impor­tant to include things you both like as a cou­ple even if it isn’t a tra­di­tional thing to have at a wedding.

I really wanted the day to be fun so instead of a tra­di­tional guest book I hired dig­i­tal Polaroid cam­eras and filled a vin­tage suit­case with fun props for guests to wear. I had a large sign made, which was a pic­ture of me and Neil dressed up in the props hold­ing a sign with small bul­let points of what to do. The cam­eras printed out sticky backed pho­tos which they stuck in the guest book then left us a mes­sage next to it, it went down really well with every­body and it was fun to look through after­wards, espe­cially the ones towards the end when peo­ple have a had a few to drink!

We had 2 owls make an appear­ance dur­ing the drinks and canapés which the guests could hold and have pic­tures with.

A car­i­ca­tur­ist enter­tained the guests from dessert and through the evening party so every­one had a fun sou­venir to take away with them. We had a DJ play through­out the night — it was great to see the dance floor full all night. The guests also enjoyed a pea­cock coloured themed candy buf­fet and a barbeque.

I also chore­o­graphed a dance rou­tine with my brides­maids to a mix of ran­dom songs like Can’t Touch This, Bay­watch, Baby Got Back etc. They even wore shorts under their dresses which spelled out Mr and Mrs Har­ris which they revealed at the end to a big cheer!! We had barely had any prac­tice together but it came off and we had such a laugh doing it and all the guests loved it, it’s been hilar­i­ous to watch it back on our wed­ding video!

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (21)

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (22)

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (23)

Rec­om­mended wed­ding suppliers:

Muncaster wedding Steve Hillman (24)

A wow factor wedding: peacock feathers, gold dress and a fairytale castle!

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