There is just something so incredibly special, so incredibly timeless about an English wedding. And it’s made all that much more darling when the couple infuses their personalities among the traditions, which is just what happened with this beauty captured by Sarah-Jane Ethan. Complete with gorgeous English gardens, beautifully classic gown and tweed a plenty, this gallery is English wedding gold.
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From The Bride…Warren & I met in a bar in Tynemouth, our local village, at Christmas time but I was only home for a week as I was going back to uni in Leeds so we ended up chatting and swapping numbers but once I was back in Leeds nothing happened – I was a student and warren was working full time in Newcastle. It wasn’t until the following October where we bumped into each other again at a party when I was home for the weekend and we got back in touch and Warren came to visit me in Leeds for a weekend a few weeks later and that was that!
We were engaged over scrambled eggs! I was stood in our kitchen in my pajamas on a Saturday morning making us scrambled eggs for breakfast and Warren started following me round the kitchen looking a bit nervous and I told him (repeatedly) to get out of my way and I would shout when the eggs were ready. He then blurted out that I made the best scrambled eggs in the world…my response was thanks but seriously get out of my way and then he said “what I’m trying to say is I would like you to make these scrambled eggs for the rest of my life” whilst looking at me right in the eye and then it dawned on me…and I said “are you trying to ask me what I think you are trying to ask me as that’s the worst proposal ever and where’s the ring?!” Well yes he was asking me what I thought he was asking and there was no ring as apparently it just occurred to him at that moment when I was making him scrambled eggs! But I did get to choose my own very beautiful and unique engagement ring! Our friends and family still debate whether it’s the least romantic or most romantic proposal but we all agree it was very “us”.
We were engaged for 3 years before setting a date or doing any planning. We weren’t really in a hurry to get married but one day we were driving to Rothbury and decided to try and visit Brinkburn Priory, the English Heritage site on the way – my family had a caravan in Rothbury for a few years when I was younger and I spent lots of time there and I had told Warren about this interesting old Priory and we had tried to visit it twice before to get there and find it was closed so we thought third time lucky. It’s a beautiful venue in a lovely area of the Northumberland countryside 40 minutes drive from our home at the coast and we’ve always loved walking up there. Third time lucky in one sense as it was closed but there was a sign with an arrow giving directions to a wedding. When we got home I looked up Brinkburn Priory as a wedding venue remembering how lovely it was when I went as a child. We decided to go to their next open day and instantly knew it was perfect for us. It was November 2014 and a crisp autumn day and the colours of the trees and the river and beautiful forest seemed magical combined with the tipi and the lovely cottage. It had a really relaxed, fun, quirky and unique vibe which was just what we were looking for. We wanted to do something a little different but that matched our love of the outdoors and of Northumberland. We asked about dates and every weekend in 2015 was already booked apart from one Saturday…which was the day before Warren’s 40th birthday. This seemed perfect as many of our friends and family were beginning to ask after over 3 years of being engaged, were we ever going to get married and warren would always respond that he would definitely have to get married before he was 40…it seemed too funny to end up doing it the day before so we set about planning a weekend of celebrations rather than just one day. I decided I wanted to get married in the huge beautiful old Priory which is steeped in history and have the reception in the fun and very unique giant hat tipi which was adorned with fairy lights, comfy leather sofas with animal print throws and quirky barrel tables. The accommodation on site was also beautiful and sleeps 17 people so we thought it would be perfect to have close friends and family stay with us for the full weekend.
I chose the very first dress I tried on! I made a few appointments in Newcastle after an internet search, having no real idea where to start. I went to the first shop and the girls were amazing. One of them did a consultation with me asking what I was looking for. The only thing I knew I would like was a lot of lace and long sleeves. Danni picked a dress from the rail and I tried it on and loved it and said I will go for this one – I’m pretty good at making decisions and I knew I’m not the type of girl who would enjoy trying on 50 dresses in hot cramped changing rooms. My mom and Danni had to make me try on a couple more styles to make sure but I kept thinking about the first one. Danni wouldn’t let us buy it before going away and thinking about it as I think she wanted me to be really sure and was worried I had made a snap decision. We went for lunch and a cocktail and went back and bought the dress. As easy as that. My shoes were also pretty easy – I waited until about a month before the wedding and thought oh god I best buy some shoes! I spent way longer mulling over bridesmaid shoes than my own! I knew my shoes wouldn’t be visible under my dress so I went for comfort and a relatively cheap pair from debenhams which I’m really pleased about as I’ve never worn them since and they couldn’t be seen on the day. I didn’t go for any accessories other than a floor length veil which really complimented the dress. I wanted the dress to do all the talking.
Flowers were strangely harder than the dress for me as I just didn’t know where to start with colours and styles etc but the venue recommended a local florist who was amazing. I went to her house with my mom only 2 months before the wedding and I described the colour scheme and theme of the wedding – we were going nautical! And she instantly said burnt orange would look great with the midnight blue bridesmaid dresses. Not something I would have thought of but she was so right. I went for beautiful bright bouquets for the bridesmaids with lots of orange colour to compliment their dark dresses and a mixed bouquet of colour and ivory for mine. We didn’t go for any flowers in the Priory as we felt it didn’t need any as it’s such a grand building. I went for a wild and natural look for the flowers to compliment the countryside and autumnal feel and the men’s buttonholes had herbs and birch included in them.
I struggled with bridesmaid dresses more than anything! I had 6 bridesmaids plus my 4 year old niece as a flower girl and I basically left it too late to order any from most bridal shops or online suppliers – I was far too relaxed in the beginning! But i also knew I wanted navy or midnight blue and floor length and when I got my dress in March, all of the bridesmaid dresses were short and in summer colours which wouldn’t work for an October nautical themed wedding. I hedged my bets and waited until August when I knew high street retailers would be getting their autumn/winter stock in and my mom found the perfect dresses on monsoon’s website and I ordered one for my sister to try and she loved it and the other bridesmaids loved them too. The flower girl dress and jacket were also from monsoon. One of my bridesmaids works in fashion so I asked her to help me with the bridesmaid shoes and she found amazing and really unique silver shoes with a jeweled heel on asos which were comfortable too. I only wish I had ordered a pair for myself now as they still love wearing them.
The groom wanted to wear tweed – he loves tweed and we wanted to go a little different. We thought blue tweed look great in the countryside setting and keep the men warm and tie in with the nautical theme. Warren’s tweed 3 piece suit was bespoke, made by a tailor in Northumberland who is now in his 70s and has been making suits his whole life – John Blade. The groomsmen suits were also blue tweed and were from a very quirky shop called Most Suitable in Newcastle. We said on the invites that tweed for gents was encouraged but in no way mandatory and so many of our guests turned up in tweed which was amazing.
I chose Sarah-Jane Ethan as our photographer after a recommendation from one of my bridesmaids who had been at a wedding as a guest where you were photographer. She said SJ had been brilliant and got some amazing quirky and unique shots but just blended into the background but were really good fun too. She knew that warren and I were kind of dreading the photo side of things as we both hate having our photo taken! So SJ’s relaxed vibe sounded perfect. I checked out her website and immediately got in touch! The images are amazing, she captured every one of my favourite moments of the day – from the sublime to the ridiculous moments!The colours are captured so well – the colours of the trees etc and she caught some great natural, in the moment pictures of all of us just looking like we were having a really great fun time – which was my aim of the day :-)
Well I was very relaxed and was adamant I didn’t want the planning of the wedding to take over our lives or become a bridezilla! Although I probably did have my moments at times..mainly because we booked the venue with just under 11 months to go but I really didn’t do any planning until about 5 months before the big day – which sounded like more than enough time to me but it turned out it wasn’t really – not with both of us working busy jobs and having busy lives – it turns out planning a wedding is kind of like another full time job! But my advice would be to have as much fun as you can along the way as it should be a really happy time in your life and your relationship, not a stressful one. But be more organized than I was and don’t leave things till the last minute. Accept help from friends and family when they offer it and use the wedding planner book you were given as an engagement gift. Oh and stick to the budget you agreed on – sticking to a budget has never been a forte of mine but costs can quickly spiral out of control! And on the day, enjoy every minute of it, it will fly by but relax and know that after all the planning, the day will be just how you wanted it. I genuinely never stopped laughing all day! I would also recommend a photo booth – it made the evening!
Photography: Sarah-Jane Ethan | Wedding Dress: YAP Bridal | Cake: Marks & Spencer | Catering: Wilkins Fine Dining | Band: Groove Allstars | Venue: Brinkburn Priory | Photo Booth: Snaparazzi