Monday mondayyyyyy so good to me. Monday morning, it was all I hoped it would beeeeeee. And hello to this gorgeous wedding. I *think* this is the first time I am blogging a Cluskey Smith wedding, I am not sure why, their work is gorgeous. I flicked through some of their weddings and fell in love with their style of photography, and the moments they managed to capture. Richard and Helen’s day was no exception, their fun and detailed filled wedding looked so pretty.
photography | Cluskey Smith
The incredible pink haired Diablo Rose from LeKeux Vintage salon in Leeds did my hair and make up.
Therefore to look different I chose a dramatic look for my wedding day. Big red lips, big eyes, and sleek curls in my hair. I wanted old school red carpet glamour so Diablo was the perfect choice. She did an amazing job!
The good thing about choosing a make up artist is the staying power my make-up lasted all day and night. While my hair was still curly for about 3 days after.
I was lucky to have the very talented Claire at the owner of Wharfedale Grange arrange my flowers. She orders them direct from a contact in Holland which kept the cost down. This also meant that I was able to include peonies which were out of season in August. My brief for Claire was pastel colour roses; yellows, lilacs, pinks, oranges alongside gypsophila and lambs leaf. She created such incredibly beautiful flowers on the day and included tea roses which are just gorgeous.
We had flower arrangements in tea tins and teapots on the tables, flowers in little glass vials on the table plan, and all around the wedding cake. Myself and my bridesmaids had bouquets, my husband, groomsmen and ushers had button holes, my mum and mother in-law had corsages, and we designed gypsophila flower crowns for my little sisters Charlie and Amy who were my flower girls.
My bridesmaids’ dresses were all a different ice cream pastel shades. Peach, lilac, mint and blush pink. The dresses were from a online boutique called Little Mistress. I chose them because the beading on the sweetheart neckline reminded me of the gypsophilla in the bouquets. The bridesmaids wore their own shoes and styled their hair with loose curls.
My bridesmaids are like sisters to me and we all have grown up together as childhood best friends it was very important for me that they felt not only beautiful and but comfortable.
My flower girls wore cream lace Peter Pan collar dresses embellished with gold flowers – these were from monsoon.
The sense of smell and how it can evoke memories was really important to me. I chose Coco Chanel Mademoiselle which is a perfume I had never worn before. I used it before the wedding on the more momentous wedding planning moments like when I went for a dress fitting, when we choose our wedding rings, my hen party.
I wanted the smell to remind me of not just the wedding day but the process of getting married – all the excitement before! So I can look back smell Chanel and let it remind me of a special time.
I also used lots of vanilla pillar candles in the Teepees for two main reasons; I thought the scent of vanilla would enhance the taste of the afternoon tea, and I wanted to create an ambiance for the guests which used all the senses.
I also lit a Yankee candle called wedding day while getting ready as I believe in candles can help you to stay focused and be calm.
My dress was from Laura Day Bridal in Middlesbrough. I fell in love with it straight away – the third dress I tried on. A pristine white Pronovias mermaid dress made from polka dotted tulle and sequinned appliqué body. It had an illusion back and made me feel like a princess. It was the the bridal fitter who suggested I try the dress on, and in a rather cliche moment, I instantly knew that was the dress for me.
In an ideal world I would have had lady dragon Melissa x Vivienne Westwood shoes. The ones that smell of strawberries and are adorned with a jellied love heart. In reality my husband is only a fraction taller than me and I didn’t want to look gigantic.
I compromised by creating my own version. I bought some white low heeled vintage peep-toes and I made two golden glittery heart shoe clips from super thick card and gold glitter and glued them on with a glue gun. They actually looked really really amazing! I’m not saying better than Vivienne Westwood’s but for me they were near enough.
Bride’s hair accessories/veil – I purchased a vintage pearl and crystal side tiara from eBay. I wanted something that appeared to just sit upon my hair. My hair is so fine a found that a clip felt too heavy.
A Multi- venue extravaganza! I got ‘wedding ready’ with my bridesmaids at the exquisite Rudding Park in Harrogate, then the ceremony took place at within the historic ruins of Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds, and we went on to have a Champagne Afternoon Tea reception in some Teepees on a beautiful patch of Yorkshire countryside – a farm called Wharfedale Grange.
We were transported from location to location on vintage buses. One route master a nod to Richard being from London, and one Yorkshire representing me. There were hired from the Keighley Bus Museum.
The super talented Alex and Jenni at CluskeySmith. It was really important for us to have professionals who were on the same wave length to us. We wanted a relaxed, fun filled and celebratory vibe to the day and we were blessed with Alex and Jenni who whole heartedly contributed to the atmosphere by being amazing. I think the wonderful thing about documentary style photographers is that they can capture people at there truest – relaxing and having fun. The photos they produced are treasured not only by us but by our guests too.
Plus there was two of them! Alex and Jenni are a husband and wife team. Which meant the bridal party had Jenni, while we were getting ready. While Alex was with the groomsmen and Richard while they were greeting our guests.
Richard’s and Leo’s suit and braces were matching and from Zara, the navy polka dotted bow ties from Reiss. Richard wore tan brogues from Ted Baker. On the morning of the wedding I left a present with his three best men for my husband to be. A gold Nixon Watch with a card saying ‘see you at half past two’
Groomsmen’s outfits/accessories – The groomsmen supplied there own outfits of navy suit, or waistcoat with or without braces. We supplied all the groomsmen with a navy polka dot bow tie.
I had a very loose theme of ice cream pastel shades with gold accents. Really I just chose summery things which I liked.
For the afternoon tea I collected mix and matched vintage china. I only looked out from the prettiest of items, and built up quite the collection. I really enjoyed matching the cups and saucers together. We had a vintage trio (cup, saucer and cake plate) for each guest as a place setting. A vintage plate and mini milk bottle with a straw acting as a place setting for each child. The place-names were a luggage labesl.
I handmade all 55 cake stands for the afternoon tea from vintage plates. Each guest shared afternoon tea with the person they were sitting next to. We thought this would be more sociable and relaxed for everyone. I had also collected teapots, sugar bowls, milk jugs, teaspoons.
A friend of my mother-in-law handmade 50ft of bunting out of vintage fabric in pastel colours. Which we hung from the teepee’s beams. Mary also made 10 round tablecloths out of bedsheets. Which worked out cheaper than buying the material and was the same way my husband’s nan had made the linen for his parent’s wedding in the 60s.
The tablecloths were laid with hessian runners. As centrepieces we had a vanilla pillar candle on a vintage saucer, a large paper mache number which I bought from Hobbycraft and glittered in gold, a vintage tea tin and teapot holding flowers. I also had dusky rose linen napkins I got from eBay. This was set along with all the vintage china.
For the best men I set their thank you gifts out as a place setting. A vintage cigar box filled with a Cuban cigar, zippo lighter, miniature Jägermeister, and personalised letter from my husband.
Due my mum and dad splitting up and having new lives, although they remain friends. We decided not to have a top table, as it would be very very long! Instead we had a sweetheart table just Richard, Leo and I. We hired an extra cake table and draped over a champagne gold sequin table cloth and decorated it with flowers, Mr and Mrs wooden lettering and had a heart illumination. Always adding smaller details I personalised mine and Richard’s teacups by hand painting the words Mr and Mrs.
For after the afternoon tea we set up a dessert table. I had collected different vintage dishes, plates and cake stands for everything to be displayed. I used a black and white photo of Leo covered in cake as a baby and displayed it alongside the cakes!
The dessert table was a tressel table covered in a champagne gold sequin tablecloth and I made a tassel garland from tissue paper which decorated the length of the table.
The teepees were incredibly magical inside! Set against the beautiful green landscape of Yorkshire. On the days before the wedding when I was setting everything up swallows would glide over the teepee casting their shadow as they flew – it was like being in a Disney film!
Inside for lighting we had hundreds of fairy lights, a disco ball and a giant illuminated R and H letters. Outside the teepee there was festoon lighting and we lit hundreds of candle bags on the field for when it became dark. Which only served to make everything even more magical.
We had handmade wooden signs made from pallets. To decorate the reception venue and more importantly tell everyone where everything was. The reception venue was like a mini festival. Everything was on quite a large scale.
My seating plan was made from a French antique window shutter hired from Claire. The seating arrangements were displayed on dollies I had crafted and numbered using gold glittery stickers. Individual flowers in tiny hanging glass vials was the finishing touch to the table plan.
We borrowed hay bales from the farm which we placed in a semicircle as outdoor seating, and we covered these in vintage crochet blankets. We also stacked the bales up behind an antique picture frame hanging from the bowed branch of an old tree. This acted as a photo booth. People just took photos on their mobile and used the fancy dress we had provided. It was simple, fun and informal.
Made by the wonderful Sue at Yorkshire Cake Fairy. We wanted a naked three tier lemon sponge cake to be decorated by Claire with fresh flowers. I ordered a cake topper from an American Etsy shop called Better off Wed. It was a laser cut gold script which said ‘happily ever after’.
To keep costs down we ordered on invitations from a designer from etsy. A beautiful design of watercolour roses alongside more modern bold text. Which had mine and Richard’s initials monogrammed on the back. We sent them to a printers, ordered Kraft envelopes, and gold heart seals of Amazon. My future mother-in-law Kay who is brilliant at calligraphy wrote out the envelopes.
I think we probably saved around 25% of the cost of invitations doing it this way.
My dad is in a country and folk band called The Squad. We were really happy we they said they would play a mini set list on the night. I grew up listening to my dad’s music, and it really seemed to fit the location. It made the evening that extra bit special and magical.
We created a playlist for our Dj (Dj Sime). An hours worth of floor fillers from each decade; starting at the 50s and going on through the decades ending up at the present day. This was a good way of getting the older guests up at the start of the evening and finishing the night with the more younger crowd.
The entertainment and music was perfect and the night even ended with an impromptu ‘dance off’ between a yoga instructor and an 8 year old girl!
Luckily the weather had been exceptionally kind and we had one of the only glorious summer’s day to be had.
For outdoor entertainment we had a collection of outdoor games table football and a giant connect 4 along with some 80s style board games that we set up on a pallet table surrounded by hay bales. I set up a children’s den from a wigwam which mirrored the big Teepees – I supplied a crate of wooden toys for our younger guests – the toddlers and a babies. The children had their own juice bar made from wooden crates and two Kilner vats.
My previous role as an early years teacher made and being a mum myself, made me think a lot about our younger guests. I made them up a favour bag each which included toys, an activity book, bubbles, crayons, and a book. The items were different according to the child’s age or if they were a girl or a boy.
I hope that my husband and I can look back one day and laugh over the frustrating and muddy afternoon we had making the strawberry plant seed bombs for our favours!
They were handmade from clay, compost and strawberry seeds then rolled into balls. Left to harden they were wrapped in circles of vintage material. The favours were finished of with a hessian tie and a label saying ‘plant, water and grow’
I like the idea of the favour being something that has a lasting legacy. That it would give back positivity to the world , 100 little plants that would flower into strawberries.
We ordered the sandwiches, food for the babies, and cakes for the desert table from Waitrose and it was delivered the day before the wedding. The brilliant thing about Wharfedale Grange was its huge fridges which we were able to store things in.
We ordered from scones from Hardakers Bakery in Horsforth, and bought mini strawberry and champagne tiptree jams from the Wilkinson & Sons website. Here I was able to get the labels personalised too! We ordered extra jars and filled them with Roddas clotted cream.
On the evening we had a bbq supplied by Happy Hogs. It was a perfect way to round off the evening having a BBQ while watching the sunset!
At Kirkstall Abbey logistically it would have been very difficult to have provided canapés. So we came up with the idea to provide little bags of popcorn. We bought big bags of sweet and salty, and pink strawberry popcorn from a cinema provider.
Then my husband and his bestmen had the duty of filling the brown paper bags I had decorated. We set up a champagne bar in the Abbey, and had popcorn stocked up in an vintage apple crate beside it. The bar was manned by our ushers – providing drinks for everyone as they arrived.
We had Pimms as drinks on arrival to the teepee, and had a vintage bucket full of ice and soft drinks for anyone who wanted them.
I used a mobile bar firm from York called Speakeasy Liberations. Ross created for us a bespoke cocktail each Richard’s purple proposal (he proposed during a Prince concert) tasting of chocolate orange and Helen’s acceptance pink and fizzy and tasting of strawberries.
A non-alcoholic cocktail named Leo the Lion after our son was provided for those who didn’t drink. The cocktails were delicious and our guests loved them. Ross served them in beautiful vintage style glasses. The bar ran onto the evening and it was just fantastic. Definitely one the guests’ highlights, and my husband and I can try and recreate the cocktails in the future – which is a really lovely way to remember the wedding.
For me personally this wedding meant a change in career. I am now a wedding planner with my business Celebrate Everything! hiring out vintage and interesting props to weddings and styling the most important day in people’s lives.
There are too many happy memories I made that day. The topmost of all would be seeing Richard cry when he first saw me. That’s every brides dream really isn’t it!? In that split moment I felt his love for me, and that he was immensely proud to become my husband.
We wanted our wedding to be not only a celebration of us and of our love for each other as a family, but a celebration of everyone who came. Amongst our guests there were people who had guided us, shaped our lives, who we had shared belly laughs with and who had offered us a shoulder to cry on when we needed one. It felt important to us to give everyone a big party as a way of saying thank you.
It was definitely worth the effort we went to – to see everyone having fun, and enjoying themselves.
The experience of planning my wedding also encouraged me to change my life. Now I support brides through the often hard process of planning a wedding. To make their ‘dream day’ come true.
After my own wedding I felt so satisfied that everything I had planned had gone right. Other than raising my son, what we achieved in organising and making everything ourselves, and the celebration we created is one of my biggest accomplishments.
When you’ve had a baby, your wedding becomes less about you as a couple, and more about relaxing and making memories as a family. We chose the Dominican Republic and it was beautifully relaxing and even had a water park for Leo.
Make planning enjoyable. Try and make the planning process into a memory. Wear the wedding day perfume, involve your friends, and take coffee breaks in nice places.
Delegate jobs. Can your husband write out envelopes? Your mum email a suppliers for quotes? Take every bit of help you can.
Seek the help of a wedding professional if it’s all getting a bit too much. I ended up hiring some bits for my wedding because I couldn’t source them. Wedding planners don’t always have to work start to finish meaning you can get help during the planning process but at the fraction of the cost.
Where did you find your inspiration?
The idea to use vintage china and have an afternoon tea came from dating Richard. When we were living in London he exposed me to so many things, that as a girl from a small north east market town I hadn’t experienced before. One of these things was having cake and a cup of tea in a vintage tearoom in Chislehurst called Annabels.
I also looked at Pintrest. I created a board of things that I thought I could reasonably recreate if I had the confidence to just go for it. I remember saying to my photographers after a cocktail or two at the end of the day ‘look it’s Pintrest come to life’.
I looked at wedding planner’s websites and through wedding blogs for ideas for the bigger picture. How other bride’s had their day planned out, and how everything came together as a whole.
Some of the ideas just came from our hearts. Richard and I believe whole-heartedly in making memories for others. We believe in sharing in love and happiness and going the extra mile to brighten someone’s day. I think the ambience could be pinpointed to that philosophy really. We felt a lot of love in the room that day.