The sun continues to shine, and the gorgeous real weddings just keep coming. This time it’s the turn of wonderful Brides Up North reader, Jess, to share her big day on our pages, and we have to say the beauty of this one goes much deeper than the styling and props.
For Jess and her beau Ian, we’re keen to make their celebrations a truly personal affair, making their guests feel right at home while also providing a clear reflection of their relationship.
Picking new Yorkshire venue Wharfedale Grange as the location, a stunning Caroline Castigliano dress and an abundance of blooms, Jess made sure the key elements were set to stun and then added special touches to the day, including a jazz hour with personalised cocktails, a Yorkshire themed wedding breakfast menu and the most thoughtful favours we’ve ever come across. Showcasing her rhyming and literacy skills, Jess penned an individual six-line poem about each and every guest (120 to be precise!!). These little ditties were so well received that Jess has since set up a lovely little business of her own so she can offer her talents to other couples looking to put a personal stamp on their proceedings, and we think she may well be inundated for such services!
Now, let’s indulge in the pretty
With photography by Ash Martin Photography.
jess says: We got engaged whilst skiing in Morzine, France. It’s our favourite place for a holiday in both summer and winter, as we love to be in the mountain air and active. We had the perfect blue sky day on the slopes, drinking mulled wine in the sunshine and then Ian got down on one knee in on the balcony of our chalet on the Monday evening. I had a feeling something was amiss when he randomly took the bin out, it was only half full! But he used that decoy to nip out to order some champagne at the restaurant he had secretly booked. We celebrated with a slap-up meal at our favourite restaurant, all the waiters were looking at us and smiling. I couldn’t even taste the food I was so excited, it was the biggest surprise ever. I always joke that I’ll never hate a Monday ever again!
Our wedding was on Saturday 5th May 2018, we chose it because it was a bank holiday weekend and we knew people would be extra relaxed. We wanted a spring wedding at the start of the season when our guests would be ready and raring to go. The 5th of the 5th is also an easy anniversary to remember (said Ian)!
We risked the weather not being the best, but it turned out to be 23 degrees, full sun and probably the first day of the summer! It was scorching.
Although we have lived and worked in London for a couple of years, Yorkshire will always be our home and we knew it was the only place we would get married. And so, our ceremony took place at St Giles Church in Bramhope, where I was both christened and confirmed. I lost my brother at a young age and it was also where we held his funeral, so lots of family memories there. Ian knew it was a special place for me.
The reception I wanted somewhere close-by to Bramhope but also something a little different and not somewhere our guests would have visited before. We had heard about Wharfedale Grange being built to be ready for spring 2018, so it seemed perfect. We were the first couple to enquire and Claire the owner, set up a meeting with us where we viewed the paper plans for the building. It sounded wonderful, a romantic yet glamorous large barn! So, we took the risk on the build and didn’t even look elsewhere. It was booked.
Theme-wise, I wanted something romantic and glamourous to match the reception venue. I would say our main theme was ‘personalisation’! I wanted each and every guest to feel welcome and special at our wedding, I was adamant it wouldn’t be generic and would completely reflect me and Ian.
I have always loved writing little poems about people in birthday cards etc. so I thought it would be a great idea and so thoughtful to write a little six-line rhyme for every guest (120) at the wedding table as a favour. People were blown away by the individual nature of them, as I tailored them to each individual person’s personality traits, hobbies and memories I had with them. People said they felt so special and welcome. Since then the requests have flooded in from people seeing it on Instagram and I have been asked to write favours for another two weddings this summer. My little business – Word It Rhyme – is doing well! It’s my dream to do this as my full-time occupation and I really hope I can make it happen. Our wedding save the dates, invitations and thank you cards also had rhymes written on them too.
I chose nudey pinks, coppers and creams for the colour scheme as it felt romantic and warm. We asked all men to wear black tie, but ladies could be in anything. The dress code on the invites stated: “For all you guys it’s black tie with bows, but for you ladies, anything goes!”
When it came to my wedding dress I had an absolute nightmare! I have always been slim and love clothes, so thought I would find a dress so easily. Little did I know, after trailing up and down the country from Yorkshire to London would I still not find ‘the one’. I even previously put a deposit down on a different dress and changed my mind after not sleeping for three days! Luckily, I fell in love with a Caroline Castigliano dress from The Bridal Collection in Harrogate. It was just the right amount of bridal, romance and still church-appropriate. It was my friend who suggested I tried it so I guess I have her to thank! It was way over my budget, but I just went for it. I paid for my own dress and veil as I wanted to walk down the aisle as an ‘independent woman’ as Destiny’s Child would say!
Ian has always had an interest in tailoring and he actually custom made his own suit for the wedding by reaching out to a trade-only supplier in Yorkshire. He chose every part of it; the fabric, lining, lapel style etc. He had the wedding date sewn into the lining too, which was a nice touch.
His groomsmen wore matching suits from Charles Tyrwhitt. We had a mix of heights, but the staff were very helpful and accommodating in there.
I saw a nude pink bridesmaid dress in a shop window in Chelsea, London, one day which I knew would be perfect for my girls. When I went back to find out where they were from the shop had closed down! So, I searched high and low on the internet to find that same dress! Luckily, I found out it was from a new bridesmaid dress brand called Motee Maids. At that point, only Bijou Bridal Boutique in Yorkshire stocked them, so I traipsed my bridesmaids over to Holmfirth to try them on. We went on a trunk sale day and got a discount on the dresses which was great. We also met the designer who was lovely and helped us create a bespoke dress for my poorly bridesmaid Maisie who was conscious of not showing much flesh due to her illness. April and Sarah wore the Lake georgette in champagne petal and Maisie wore a custom gown. The dresses were beautiful quality.
I worked for ghd hair for five years and made lots of contacts in the hair industry. I have really long blonde hair and they couldn’t wait to get their hands on it for my wedding day! Sally Whitehead did my hair and makeup. She also used to work for ghd but now works for HD Brows – so she was trained in both. I knew I wanted it loosely curled and plenty of it down for the day. In my hair trial I decided on half up/half down but the on the day she curled it so beautifully I made the decision to just go all down! Sally also did two of the bridesmaids’ hair, and they also had a hair change on the morning of the wedding! Previously having plaits but also loving their curls that they stuck with something simple, just the side piece taken up.
As transport, we hired a black Jaguar from the Yorkshire Wedding Car Company. Ian wanted something stylish and modern to match our black-tie theme. It was huge and felt super cool. We also hired a red London bus to transport guests from the church to the reception which was fun and brought a little bit of our ‘Londoness’ back home to our wedding. That was hired from The Yorkshire Heritage Bus Company.
I have worked on lots of fashion and beauty shoots in my career and have a photographer friend who I trusted wholeheartedly to shoot my wedding: Ash Martin Photography from Cheshire. He brought his friend along who is a professional wedding photographer (Rob Hunter) so together they captured everything.
I adored my flowers for the wedding! They were from Lily’s of Bramhope, which is a shop just next door to my mum’s house! I gave Rachel the owner a very specific brief and fretted for weeks whether the cappuccino rose I had chosen would be too dark for the bouquets. In the end they were simply perfect, one of my favourite parts of the whole day.
I had a large bouquet, with my bridesmaids all having a smaller version. We had some lovely large fresh gypsophila hearts to decorate the church altar and two which also hung above the church doorway, as well as some big pedestal arrangements and lots of cream pillar candles. The pew end decorations were also very cute.
Wharfedale Grange was already so cool it actually didn’t need too much decoration. I bought a personalised large wooden calligraphy ‘Ian & Jess’ sign from Etsy to hang above the top table which looked fab and really made the barn feel like ours.
When it came to the cake, I wanted something big and amazing (why not!). Two of our family friends make cakes in their spare time and offered to make our cake as a wedding gift. Sarah from Betsy Boo’s Little Bakery and Anne Aitken. We planned the design together, a five-tier masterpiece with tumbling flowers. They had icing flower making mornings for two months before the wedding. Then Anne took two days off work to make our tiers: chocolate, vanilla and carrot. It was delicious and looked world class.
I was recommended Upcroft Catering from Guiseley. They do no marketing and have been running off recommendations for 25 years! Rightly so, husband and wife team Paul and Amanda Hefferman did a superb job. I wanted a Yorkshire themed menu which was locally sourced. We settled on starter of east coast lobster, crab and avocado timbale with a mango and apple crisp summer salad; followed by roast fillet of beef, mini Yorkshire puddings and a bundle of spring vegetables served with horseradish mash, roast potatoes and rich gravy. Then for pud we had ‘Trio of Yorkshire’ desserts. In the evening we served mini fish and chip cones, plus we had a giant table of various cheeses and wedding cake.
For the entertainment, we surprised guests with a saxophone player after dinner. Following the end of the speeches Emma the Saxophonist walked into the main room and played Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty which is mine and Ian’s favourite jazz song. She then continued for the remainder of our “Jazz Hour”, during which time we served personalised cocktails: Jesspresso Martini, Ian ‘a’ Colada and Douglas Daquiri. I felt this really kept the wedding moving from one phase to the next so there was no lull. In the evening we hired Let It Funk, who played two band sets with a DJ in between. They were fab and did a great mix of old and new funk tunes. We finished the wedding with Take That Never Forget with everyone in a circle – it was fab! All entertainment was booked through Jonny Ross Music.
Following our wedding we would most definitely recommend our choice of venue to other brides and grooms. It was amazing! Wharfedale Grange has some quirky little traits which make it a perfect venue: Prosecco tap in the ladies loo, secret brides getting-ready-room, you have to slide a giant Narnia-style mirror to find it, set in the rolling hills of Yorkshire, chandeliers everywhere, brand new, huge windows which look out onto the view, a giant rose gold glitter ball!
We loved our entire day from start to finish, though the main highlights were probably the speeches and the jazz hour. I felt so relaxed and happy everything had gone to plan. The sun was setting, everyone was in great spirits! I also really enjoyed the ceremony, the vicar made it really light hearted. We both laughed the whole way through our vows out of nerves, no tears!
We went on holiday to Santorini in Greece. We spent a lot of our budget on the wedding day itself and knew we would have to sacrifice flying halfway around the world for our honeymoon! But I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Oia is beautiful, set into a cliff with white and blue houses and caves. We stayed at Santos Maris and enjoyed a blissful week of sun, sea and sleep! We were so tired after the wedding prep I think the adrenaline dip finally hit us. We enjoyed a catamaran cruise one day, and a wine tour another day. Visiting in May was the perfect time, the weather and temperature were spot on and it wasn’t too busy or crowded.
My top tip to other Brides Up North would be – it’s the little things which make a wedding really feel like yours, don’t bypass them!
I also loved visiting the Brides Up North blog during the planning of the wedding. It has a nice local feel to it and I found it less ‘mass market’ and pretentious than some of the other sites I visited. Also, the online directory and inspiration features are fab!