We are delighted to share the beautiful wedding of Natalie which took place on 7th September 2019 at Askham Hall – Penrith Cumbria. Their incredible photos are by Tim Johnson Photography

Tell us about finding the dress

I started out by googling some styles that I liked and finding some shops that were close together that had those dresses. The first Saturday I went shopping I took my mum, and my mother in law and we went to 3 different shops just outside London. The key was for them to be close enough that we could do all 3 in one day, although I’ll be honest, 3 was a lot. I definitely didn’t find my dress on that day but I tried on so many beautiful dresses and I knew by now what I was looking for. Something plain, classic and likely with a striking neckline. I did another day and still didn’t find anything in shops in London so mixed it up and switched my search to Southampton, near to where my mum lives. The day I found my dress I actually found another dress in the morning that I thought I loved but I just wasn’t sure. That afternoon I walked into BOW hoping to try on a Suzanne Neville dress I’d seen online – it wasn’t me at all and I was bit disappointed. I’m a big believer in fate and that day designer Nicola Anne was doing a visit to the shop. She listened to what I wanted and suggested I try on a dress that was new that season. I put it on and instantly loved it, but it was in a Champagne colour and whilst everyone said that colour looked great I went with the Ivory shade even though I’d never actually seen the dress. I never had a moment where I put a dress on and just knew, there were no happy tears as that’s just not me, but I do believe in fate and for me having Nicola there was the little push I needed to make a decision. My advice – there are so many beautiful dresses, and everyone is different. Don’t put too much pressure on the situation, your best friend may burst into tears at the sight of her dress and you may not, it doesn’t mean you love you dress any less, just that you’re different people. And enjoy it, go for lunch in between shopping and cocktails after you’ve finished, it’s allowed to be fun too!

How did you choose your venue

My husband is from Surrey, I’m from Blackpool and we live in London. We wanted somewehere neutral that was abit different for our guests. I grew up going to the Lake District as my parents have a lodge there so we go really regularly and I love it there. The landscape is amazing, the people are fab and the food scene is great so we knew even before we were engaged that it would be a lakes wedding for us. Given we live so far away we did a lot of googling and looking at venues online and set a weekend to go and look at them. Late one night, after we had everything scheduled I found Askham Hall on a blog I think. This time – I really did get a feeling and when I showed Dave he loved it too. It was the first and last venue we viewed and we put the deposit down after being there for half an hour. Things I loved about the venue – they called themselves a restaurant with rooms – so it’s food first which I’m always a fan of, they didn’t have rules about which suppliers you could use as long as you let them know, it’s beautiful and full of history and it had a pizza oven – sold!

How did you choose your photographer?

We’ve known Tim a few years, he did the photos at my brothers wedding and another wedding for a family friend so we already had a great rapport with him which I think is one of the key things. You have to be able to relax around your photographer in order to get the best photos, Tim’s style very much suited ours and as a result our pictures are exactly what we wanted and we love them. I also wanted to mention our Videographer Adam McGrath from AM Film productions. We really weren’t sure we wanted one and everyone else was saying we must have one. We gave in in the end and I’m so glad we did as what Adam created was so beautiful. It tells the story of our day in the nicest way and honestly, I watch it all the time. 

What was your wedding theme?

I love a theme and all the things that come with it so this was super fun for me. We had the idea early on that we wanted to incorporate gin, because who doesn’t like gin, and we wanted plenty of flowers so quickly the theme became gin & botanicals, and colour wise we wanted dark jewel colours – burgundy, navy blue and emerald green. I’m quite creative and had so many ideas, some might say too many ideas, which is where the fabulous Emily K Weddings came in. As a first step she creates this amazing story of the day for you which helps you get your ideas in order and of course gives you plenty of new ideas. From there exactly how you work with Emily is up to you but for me it was all about helping me source all the fabulous things to bring the theme to life, using her never ending experience to liaise with the right suppliers and of course dressing the venue which she did such a great job of. From there my ideas kept coming from creating a bespoke chandelier with Typical Type to naming our tables after gin, tonic and our favourite accompaniments. I really think having a theme was great for us as it helped us focus our ideas but I think don’t get too caught up forcing one if you don’t have one, just pick the things you like.

What were your wedding flowers?

I love flowers – so getting the right florist was really important to us. Given we were getting married in a place we didn’t live and didn’t know well at all, recommendations by the wedding planner Vicky Rowland at the venue were so important. Luckily she was completely fabulous and instantly after hearing all about our plans and the style we were going for recommended Laura at Greenwheat, and she was absolutely amazing. Whatever crazy ideas I came up with Laura found a way to do them. From beautiful meadow boxes down the aisle, to hanging single stem flowers from the Edison bulb chandelier to the terrarium centre pieces that featured the fruit from the table names or finding juniper berries for place settings. We had burgundy dahlias, blue thistles, juniper berries and orange Chinese lanterns. We incorporated lots of greenery to dress the venue and even hops for the bannisters.  

What was your wedding cake?

We aren’t really cake people so spending hundreds of pounds on one was never going to be us. However we definitely wanted one as the tradition of cutting the cake was important to us. So, my stepmom took on cake duties and did a great job. We actually had 2 cakes – one naked cream sponge cake and one cheese cake for my husband who doesn’t eat anything sweet. They both came from M&S and my stepmum dressed them beautifully on the day with all sorts of flowers and fruits. 

How did you feel on the big day?

Excited, I was excited about everything all day and I think you can see that from the look on my face. I can honestly say I wasn’t nervous. I’m a massive control freak and do a lot of events and organisation as part of my job so I knew that I’d be worried about everything being how I wanted. So, I created an Event Bible, with timings, contact numbers, roles and responsibility. My husband thought I was mad, as I’m sure did the suppliers, but it helped me relax so it was well worth it. Walking down the aisle I don’t remember seeing anyone really accept my husband at the end of the aisle. I do remember thinking, I wish I’d practiced the walk with my dad and played him the song, but I just never thought about it, so maybe that’s a tip for you. 

What was your first dance?

Music was a big thing for us as we both love music. Our first dance was ‘You do something to me’ by Paul Weller and I walked down the aisle to ‘Songbird’ by Fleetwood Mac. We also had a band and a DJ as luckily our venue was open until 2am so the party was quite a late one. We’d say having both was well worth the money. 

Top tip(s) for other brides

Top tip during the planning process – it is your day – but there are lots of other people that are important to you and so their opinions will matter. Which is fine, and take them onboard but make sure that in the end you take the decision between the two of you. If that means holding some information back about your day from your parents or friends in order to manage it then so be it – as long as you’re both happy. It’s also nice for them to to have some surprises. 

On the day it’s so cliche and everyone says it but the whole day goes so fast so if you can just take a couple of seconds to enjoy it. I woke up before I knew everyone was coming to my room and a sat on the window ledge and had a coffee just to take it all in. Together we went in and looked at the venue set up before the wedding breakfast which allowed us to have a G&T just the two of us, and towards the end of the night we made time for a shot together, just the two of us. There’s so much I remember but these moments we made time for definitely stand out. 

Wedding Highlight

It’s so hard to pick one so I’m going with two. I loved the speeches, they are so personal to your relationship and your hear so many things from the people that you love that you’ve never heard before, I loved the part where my husband said ‘on behalf of my new wife and I’ that gave me goosebumps. Second dancing with all our favourite people to all our favourite songs knowing we’d have the best day ever. 

Thank you so much for sharing 

Why not share your own special day! Send your snaps to mydress@bridesofwinchester.co.uk or tag us #bowbride