With images by Olivia Brabbs Photography.
Olivia says: I wouldn’t say I was your average bride. Unlike most girls I’ve never dreamt of the perfect day, where it would be and what I’d wear. In fact it wasn’t until Phil proposed on my birthday in Vegas last year (2011) that the idea of a wedding had even crossed my mind. I remember looking at the ring, then at him, and saying ‘so does this mean we’re getting married then?’
“If you like!” he said.
And so it began.
By the time we arrived back to my parents’ house in Leeds, my mum had practically picked the venue and spent hours scouring the internet for The Dress.
Phil had asked for their permission before we went away so mum had enjoyed a three-week head start.
Her enthusiasm for wedding research certainly made our lives a lot easier and meant we were free to head back down to London and back to work, safe in the knowledge she was going to be our wedding planning rock.
Allerton Castle was the only venue we looked at and from the moment we stepped through its gothic doors, we knew it was the one. The place is oozing with character and from a decoration point of view, made things very easy.
Our fabulous florist, Joanna McCrea from Twisted Willow Floristry in Ripon, did an amazing job enhancing the gothic feel. She used tall candelabras with gypsophila, wax flower and trailing ivy, lots of candles to create a warm feel and fairy lights for that dramatic staircase.
Our bouquets absolutely blew me away when I saw them. Joanna used the same flowers as above but with the addition of astilbe, which looked very vintage and suited the feel of the day perfectly.
The dress was Eden in platinum by Jenny Packham and I wore the Acacia 1 headpiece and matching cuff. I’d tried on every style of dress you can imagine as I had no idea what I wanted. But when I saw the shop assistant walking towards me carrying Eden, I knew it was the one. I felt fabulous and very privileged to wear it.
My shoes were by Christian Louboutin and went perfectly with the dress. Again, I had no idea what I wanted but when I saw them I fell in love.
We did our own make-up and hair which was definitely the right decision. We had a lovely morning, slowly getting ready and having breakfast, and of course lots of champagne! It meant we were totally relaxed when we walked down the aisle.
A large ornate elephant statue, a symbol of good luck, stands in front of the fireplace at the castle and when we saw it, we knew we had to use it in our stationery. None of us are particularly traditional so we went for a laid back, quirky style with gothic fonts and the elephant as the focal point. It meant that when our guests arrived at the venue, everything came together. All our stationery was designed by the creative genius that is Bev Speight – my cousin’s wife.
Olivia is an extremely talented photographer and it was a joy to have her documenting our wedding.
She captured the essence of the day, the friendships and the fun, without anyone even noticing she was there. I didn’t want her to leave!
In fact it was the same with all our guests and we literally had to be peeled out of the castle. I think that is testament to our wonderful family and friends who helped make our wedding the best day of our lives.
Entertainment also came courtesy of Booth Revolution which helped capture the fun atmosphere of the evening when our photographer finished for the day.
We wanted our big day to be personal to us, so we had a lot of little touches including personalised thimbles – Royal Wedding style – and hangover kits which included paracetamol, alka seltzer, sachets of coffee and sugar, retro sweets and a miniature bottle of vodka.
A few guests said it actually saved their lives the morning after!
We both adore cheese so a cheese wedding cake was the obvious choice. The tasty rounds came courtesy of the lovely girls at The Cheeseboard in Harrogate. All our food was locally sourced so we made sure the cake was too. It sat on part of a solid oak tree trunk which my dad had skilfully chopped up a few weeks prior.
The feel of the day was very relaxed but it soon got raucous in the evening when our band, the brilliant Northern Vinyl from Leeds, and Phil’s old school friend and Ministry of Sound DJ James Lansdown, who travelled up from London, created the perfect party/rave atmosphere.
The dance floor was packed all night and saw guests go wild with blow-up guitars, including my 90-year old grandma!
Our first dance was Florence and the Machine, “You Got the Love”. The song means a lot to us because Florence sang it at one of the first festivals we went to together. It was quickly followed by Calvin Harris and “Vegas” which is another one of our favourites.
My advice to other Brides Up North would be to stay calm even when things go wrong, because in the grand scheme of things, the relationship between you and your future husband means more than anything. Your wedding is just one day to celebrate that.
And to party of course!
Congratulations Olivia & Phil!