Once upon a time there was a Boy, a Girl and two Doggies walking along the beautiful Lake Windmere. The boy, who’s name was Ben, out of the blue presented the Girl, Leigh with twelve Gerbera flowers. Ben told her that these flowers were to represent each month they had known one another, and on each of their stems was a brown parcel tag. Upon which was written a special memory from that month. Leigh, had butterflies racing through her tummy as Ben asked her to go and stand by the lake for a photo. She went, dipped her toe in the lake and turned around to see him on one knee with the most ring beautiful ring in a little glass box filled with rose petals.
“Oh my gosh!”
“Holy moly there’s an actual ring in there, for me!”
She thought as she burst into floods of happy tears.
Exactly one year later, they married and lived happily ever after.
Since I was little, the Lake District has always had a special place in my heart. It was the place where my Dad learned first-hand on our first outing up a mountain together, at the age of 4, that I had a penchant for talking. Lots. That, teamed with the feeling of freedom and ‘home’ that we get as soon as we start driving through those familiar lakeside lanes, seemed a perfect enough reason to head back there to make a very memorable walk together. Although this time I wasn’t talking, just crying (literally sobbing- the ugly cry face photos are hilarious!), and squeezing his hand!!
Silverholme was everything we could have wanted and more in a venue. It was our home for the week of the wedding and could not have been more perfect: immaculate and intricate detail and décor, breath-taking views, right on the lake, gorgeous grounds and most of all, enough rooms and space to accommodate all of our family and bridal party members. It allowed us to enjoy the set up over a few days and dine together, and most certainly laugh together! There are some very amusing photos somewhere of my brother pretending to set up the whole wedding singlehandedly! I would in a heartbeat recommend this venue to anyone. If you want a wedding based around family, where everyone can be together in drop dead gorgeous surroundings, relax in luxury and plan your day your way, then Silverholme is the right choice. We are currently trying to make up a reason to go back and hire it again…
I wanted a wedding that would be us, and represent us as a couple. With that in mind, we didn’t necessarily go for a theme of sorts, just classic, elegant and natural! If there were any sort of theme related items to tie it to the Lake District running through, they were made from maps- My mother and I made 50 gift bags and confetti cones out of old maps, which took what seemed like forever but we just loved the time together!
I’ve always been a pink girl at heart, so we decided on dusky pink and grey as our colour theme. I originally wanted the bridesmaids in the pink, but we just couldn’t find anything in the exact colour we wanted, unless we were going to pay extortionate amounts… so in the end we ended up accenting everything with the pink, but the bridesmaids wore grey, like the groomsmen.
My dress was actually my second dress! In my ‘I’m-newly-engaged-and-so-excited-to-be-married-I-want-a-dress-now!” state, we went to a factory retail store where I could try on loads of dresses. I’d convinced myself that I didn’t need the whole bridal boutique experience, and was just so eager to get a dress, I ended up buying a Princess style dress, huge tulle skirt, with feathers on the bust- lovely, but by Christmas, I’d decided I hated it!! So, my parents, who have the most patience in the world (and because my mother LOVED every minute of the whole wedding build up- this was one of many days out with lunch, bubbly, the lot!), came with me for a whole day of five boutique appointments back to back. My dad, bless him, started out with such enthusiasm, but by boutique number 5, he’d had enough! Thankfully, though, after trying on every single style imaginable (except lace- I knew I didn’t want lace!), I had an idea of what I wanted. Lots of internet browsing, a few emails later and I walked into Adele Louise Bridal, tried on a sample of the dress I’d tracked down as ‘perfect’ and… wow! It could not have fitted more perfectly, or looked more ‘me’. It was very romantically named 8659, by Justin Alexander. Adele looked after me very well, and I loved the bridal boutique experience so much- I was mad to think I wouldn’t enjoy it!
Once I had my dress, the fun of shoe shopping began… again! (I’d already bought a pair of Jenny Packham shoes and customised them with feathers to match my original dress… these quickly went on Preloved!) Being someone who has, what I will own up to as, a shoe ‘problem’, this was such a dream getting to shop for THE most memorable pair of shoes ever- pressure! I went slightly crazy and ordered so many pairs, just to be absolutely sure. After many exhaustive no-go’s, I had my Cinderella moment! A gorgeous pair of dusky pink diamante shoes from Black Sand by Dune. They glistened every time they caught the light and look fab with a good pair of jeans on nights out now!
I didn’t want my jewellery to detract from the dress, so, after another ‘let’s-make-a-day-of-it’ day out with my Mom, I found a simple diamond and pearl drop earring and necklace set in Cupitt jewellers, in Bromsgrove. My parents got me a delicate pearl bracelet for Christmas, to match.
The final piece was my hairpiece. I had seen one similar, but anyone that knows me well will understand why I had a hard time coming to terms with paying more for a giant hair clip than for a pair of KG’s! Luckily for me, a friend of mine, Melonie Jane, is a jewellery maker and made me my own version for a fraction of the price! It was so lovely to know that it was a one off and tied in with the whole outfit so perfectly.
All of the above was classed as my ‘Something New’; my ‘Something Old’ was my Nan’s brooch, which was incorporated into my bouquet to make her a part of the day; my ‘Something Borrowed’ was my other Nan’s brooch, also attached to my bouquet; and my ‘Something Blue’ was my garter.
Ben wears a suit for work every single day, therefore he wanted something different, that would make him feel special, too. We therefore had two choices- the country style tweed look, or the top hat and tails get up. Nothing about the tweed went with anything we had set our hearts on, and wasn’t really Ben at all. He had his heart set on tails from the start and, after scouring a few wedding fayres, we found his perfect suit, which he hired from 1860. I safely steered him away from the idea of a top hat…
Little did I know, though, that on the day, Ben had chosen to wear a little something else under his suit, which he, and the other groomsmen, revealed in an excellent photo. Each one of them ripped open their shirts to reveal a superhero T-shirt, then set about different poses that had every guest, and me, in absolute stitches!
My best friend, Heather, crazy sister in law to be, Jenna, and sister in law on the day, Lou, were my gorgeous bridesmaids. We had a really fun day out trying dresses on together, and eventually, after some more online searching, came to the floor length grey ones from House Of Fraser. They looked gorgeous in them. We teamed them with some heels from Dune, which I know brought Lou out in cold sweats just thinking about it!
I was kind though, and on the morning of the wedding, I’d got them all a gift box to say thank you, and inside there was: a Fossil purse (each individualised to their taste); a photo from the hen do in a frame; a pair of grey pearl earrings; a grey pearl necklace that I had made for each of them; a pink pashmina, in case they got cold; and a pair of pretty flat sandals too, for when their feet got tired. It made me chuckle that Jenna, who lives in skyscraper heels on nights out, had down-tooled and put on the flats after the photos! I think Heather joined her around the same time, and Lou made it to the ceremony before changing!
Travel on the day involved a beautiful spiral staircase and a walk across the lawns to the coach house where we were married.
We had hoped the weather would be kind enough for an outdoor ceremony, but after a morning of sun-no sun-sun-wind-scary looking cloud-grey skies-clear skies, we gave up and set the coach house up for an indoor ceremony instead.
Dave Greaves was amazing. The kind of photographer who arrives, sits himself down on the floor of the bridal suite, and chats away, taking the most gorgeous photos ever. He was unobtrusive, and you didn’t know he was there. We first met him for our ‘engagement shoot’ just outside of Lakeside; he put us at ease and produced some beautiful, natural photos of the two of us just being us. Every single bit of contact was responded to swiftly and he was extremely accommodating in capturing the types of shots we asked for. As for the photos of the day itself, they tell the story of the day SO perfectly. From the silliness and giddiness of the bridal quite, the last minute arrangements, the tears and laughter of the ceremony, the stunning, absolutely breath-taking couple shots, and the atmosphere of the speeches through to the fun of the first dances and cutting of the ‘cake’. Every single moment was captured and we cannot recommend Dave highly enough. Even during the couple shots, he kept us entertained and even ended up wearing my marabou feather shrug to save me putting it on the floor. Not the best look on a man, but Dave pulled it off!
Digital Dream Productions were our chosen videographers. As a last minute addition, once deciding I couldn’t get married without a video documentary of it somewhere to look back in years to come, they agreed to travel from Leicester to film our day, and what an absolutely fabulous job they did of it, too. Amazing. The were really lovely guys, who we liked so much that we booked for my brother’s wedding 9 months after ours!
I am not a fan of flowers at all. I have this theory that they die, so why spend money on something that will die? That said, my parents are florists and own Danckert’s Florist… maybe I just grew up around so many flowers that I didn’t learn to appreciate them? Who knows? So, originally, I wasn’t going to have flowers at all, but one day, when scrolling through my daily dose of wedding blogs -it was Brides Up North actually!- I fell in love with a very whimsical, unstructured bouquet that had trailing ivory and millet hanging gracefully down. I sent a picture to my Mom, who then mocked up my perfect bouquet, incorporating raspberry roses and gerberas into the mix. Simple, elegant and slightly whimsical- me to a tee! The centrepieces were designed around large, silver candlesticks and matched my bouquet perfectly.
Ironically, Mom spent the whole Friday in the kitchen of the cottage at Silverholme, badgering away at the flower arrangements from 7am until 9pm, and then on the morning, Dave managed to snap my Dad putting out last minute vases and, hey presto! Dad gets all the floristry credit! It’s become a bit of a joke now!
Whenever we visit the Lakes, we always make a trip into Hawkshead to visit Hawkshead Relish. Their jams and chutneys are delicious, my favourites being the strawberry and black pepper or raspberry and vanilla. We bought mini jams and chutneys as favours and attached a little tag with a poem on it that said:
“No trip to the Lakes is ever complete
Without a tasty Hawkshead Relish treat
From banoffee sauce to jams of all flavours
It’s definitely a trove with tastes to savour
Se we thought that we’d share with you
The deliciousness that we know so true
Enjoy this jar, in all its glory
And thank you for being part of our story”
We put them in the bags that Mom and I had squirrelled away over and attached a photo of each guest as a child in a little frame to the top. When everyone arrived at the meal, there wasn’t a seating plan, just a case of finding their childhood memory and sitting down. It definitely caused some good laughs and memories of people commenting on their cheeky smiles from years ago. So many guests said they loved the idea!
Also in the bags were Help For Heroes key rings. Ben’s brother is part of the army and had recently completed a tour in Afghanistan where we all worried about him non-stop, so we thought it fitting to donate the money to a cause close to our hearts, too.
We said from the start that we wouldn’t be swayed by opinion or tradition on what we should or shouldn’t do/have on our big day, and seeing as neither of us are cake fans, we decided not to have one! Instead, we had a cheese tower that my Mom sourced from Ansteys Cheese. We had layers of Brie, Wensleydale and Cranberry, Cheddar, Stilton, and Garlic Roule, which my mom entwined with roses and ivy, served with some quirky crackers, biscuits and Hawkshead Relish chutneys.
For something sweet, I drove to Chesters By the River, where Ben had our proposal lunch from, the day before and picked up a selection of their sweet things, then chopped them into smaller pieces and set them out on slate platters. There was: Caramel Rocky Road, Brownie, Lemon and Marscapone Tart, White Chocolate Blondies, and Tiffin. My goodness I made sure I tried alllll of them!
Ben’s sister, and my bridesmaid, Lou, who is an amazing baker, also made us a selection of delicious cupcakes- White Chocolate and Raspberry, and Strawberries and Cream flavours. Cheese, biscuits and sweet things- what more could you want?!
On our first trip to the Lakes as a couple, we went with my parents to The Brown Horse at Winster, where they’ve been going for food and a mid-walk pint for many years. We decided we wanted to give our nearest and dearest a proper Lake District experience and take them to a Lakes traditional pub for our food for the day. At 5pm, we all boarded a coach at the top of the drive and had a scenic trip over to Winster, where the staff were absolutely amazing. Although we had the restaurant to ourselves, the rest of the pub as open as normal, and considering they were running an ‘open as normal’ business at the same time as catering for a wedding, they were exceptional! The food was out of this world amazing, so tasty, and so fresh. Drinks were ready in seconds, no one had to wait for anything, and they had set out the tables with the right favour bag in the right place, put out the centrepieces and generally did more than we could have asked for. Needless to say, my Dad looked after them well when he settled up the drinks tab! We had a few ‘ooh’s’ and ‘aah’s’ from the walkers and pub goers as we made our way back to the coach for the return journey, which was slightly more alcohol fuelled than the first leg… A hilarious game of ‘how many people can you fit on the back seat of the bus?’ ensued which resulted in tears of laughter and a lost pair of glasses. Can’t take my mother anywhere!
I love a night out at The Jam House, Birmingham- the music is fantastic and the atmosphere just great. Not to mention the food. Dino Baptiste plays there regularly, and whips the crowds up into a right frenzy with his eclectic style and well-chosen repertoire of songs. You will probably find him standing upside down on his stool whilst playing the piano, with the drummer drumming away on the soles of Dino’s feet. We found him like that anyway, and booked him pretty much straight away. With only having a small room and a small amount of people, we didn’t want a full band, and Dino and his drummer, Matt Tovey, did a sterling job. We were dancing all night long. And during the break, my Dad, who being a musician gravitates to other musicians like a magnet, dropped out that we are an acoustic duo too, and they even let me sing an impromptu song for Ben!
The whole week was full of little touches. As a thank you for making my hen do so special, I had nipped down to the hotels where the ladies were staying and put a little present on their pillows- a gift bag with a framed photo of us on the hen do, a thank you card, and a mini bottle of Jo Malone perfume. They loved it. We met up with everyone at the gorgeous Swan hotel bar nearby the night before the wedding and had a few drinks to celebrate and say hi before the mayhem ensued! It was a lovely night full of friends and excitement.
On the day, I had planned on waking first, but Ben’s overexcited sister woke me by bouncing on my bed, whisper-shouting, “You’re getting married today!”
I had laid out matching outfits for my bridesmaids and both mothers outside all of their rooms- pj bottoms, a white vest top and a hoodie with their names in diamantes on the back. I wanted something they’d wear again, and this has proved true as, since then, my mother and sister in law have practically lived in their hoodies!
I had also hung everyone’s outfits up on their own pretty, personalised hangers that I got from my own company, LoveLeigh Designs. Having seen lots of images of lovely dresses on plastic hangers, that I thought spoilt lovely photo opportunities, I set my heart on creating gorgeous hangers for everyone. Mine was my favourite- pink glitter with a gorgeous pink bow. I think it looks absolutely stunning on my dress photos! Everyone should have pretty hangers on their wedding day… hint hint!
My parents had been amazing helping hands throughout the whole process, through putting up with an overexcited daughter needing a second dress, through to hours of making things together and doing all of the flowers free of charge. So I wanted to say thank you personally, and did so by getting my mom a lovely pair of diamond earrings from Goldsmiths, and my dad a personalised guitar strap from Strapgraphics and engraved plectrum from The Landlocked Dog on Etsy Then jointly, I got them a National Trust membership as they love doing things like that together. We shared a few tears as I gave them their cards and gifts in the morning! The night before, just before I had my planned relaxing bath, my parents came through to my room to give me few little somethings, including a bride bear (that they had had so much fun making in the Build A Bear Factory, and who even came with her own birth certificate!! Mom hilariously insisted on pictures of ‘the bride’ in her pretty glass slippers’ the next day!), a little vanity box, and a lucky sixpence from one of the ladies who worked at their floristry studio.
After the gift giving, the fun started and the makeup artist and hairdresser arrived. We all took it in turns to be pampered whilst Dad was on hand to pour us glasses of fizz.
Ben sent over a gift, a beautiful pearl earring and necklace set, and card for me; the words had me in floods of tears! Good job it was pre-make up!!
Ben had been in charge of organising groomsmen gifts, but I wanted to send something across to them all, too, so I had sourced pairs of superhero socks (unbeknownst to me at this moment about the T-shirts!) and attached each guy’s favourite alcohol miniature to them. I sent them across with a gift for Ben too, a leather overnight bag that he could keep and use forever. He already had the usual gifts a bride would give her groom, such as a watch, jewellery, etc, and seeing as whenever we stayed anywhere, he would ask for a space in my already crammed full bag, I figured this was a good idea! Inside, he found two framed images of me from a boudoir shoot I had done.
I also got gifts for his parents too- a personalised, engraved silver keychain from Kristine’s Keepsakes on Etsy for his mom, with a hen party photo, too, and a handmade insect/bee hotel from Wudwerx at Not On The Highstreet.com
The boys spent the morning putting up the last minute décor, like the large balloons we had outlining the driveway and the signposts that Ben’s dad had made to look just like Lake District footpath signs. We also had a ‘tree’ covered in pompoms, as well as pompoms everywhere, that my brother ‘loved’ fluffing up in the lead up… He said if he never saw another pompom, it’d be too soon!
After seeing Twilight together, and hearing A Thousand Years, we decided there and then that when we got married, it would be part of our wedding, and it was- as our aisle song. We used the piano and cello version by The Piano Guys– sends goosebumps down my spine just thinking of the atmosphere it created and the memories one song can generate!
Rustic Roast Kitchen, my best friend Heather’s company, provided our canapés. She and the ever so helpful bridesmaids helped to prepare it all on the morning; they were absolutely delicious, and there was not a single morsel left in sight! We also put on a free bar, provided by Bar Thirty Two, for all of our guests.
Instead of a guest book, we opted for a guest bench so we can read the messages whenever we want. It is currently at the foot of our bed and looks fab with everyone’s messages on there. And if you look closely, there are a few hidden rude little pictures that certain family members decided to leave for us… there’s always one!!
We played music throughout the day- classical versions of pop music! We wanted something a little more relaxing and elegant than just putting background music on so Lady Gaga on violin and Katy Perry on piano were amongst the choices we made! We put up little signs everywhere to add little touches to the food tables and bar area, as well as a huge photo frame filled with polaroid snaps of the two of us throughout our time together for guests to nose at whilst we were having our couple shots taken. We did set up a heart shaped, ivy entwined photo booth outdoors but the drizzle that came during cocktail hour stopped that from being used. Damn weather! When we got back from eating, it was too dark and the drizzle had turned into full on Lakeland rain but the twinkly lights we had attached to the bay trees and gazebo tent lit up the location beautifully.
My Dad, who is renown in our family for delivering THE worst speech in history, gave a beautiful speech where I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. Ben’s brother, Matty gave a lovely Best Man speech, and Ben’s was wonderful, if littered with a few odd words here and there. Turned out that his brother and sister had challenged him to slip words like ‘elephant,’ ‘tractor,’ and other random things in there. Ben doesn’t say no to a challenge so there were a few confused faces now and then…
Our first dance was to Candyman by Christina Aguilera. We used to ballroom dance together and did a jive as an upbeat and lively start to our married life! Dad and I then did a first dance, starting out with a Waltz to Three Times A Lady by Lionel Richie, then cutting that part way through and going into a Cha Cha to In His Kiss by Cher- it was the first dance we even did together when I had learned ballroom as a child so had some fantastic memories behind it.
As a final finishing touch for the end of the night, we put on a shuttle bus to get guests back to their accommodation without the need to order a taxi. We were so humbled that everyone made the efforts to drive all the way to the Lakes, and find accommodation in order to allow us to spend our day the way we wanted to, and to express that gratitude, we tried to make the day as easy on the pocket for them as possible.
A Special mention also to:
My hair was exactly what I wanted, and was created by Katie, at First Class Hair and Beauty. As she is a family friend, she and her fab friend travelled up and stayed with us for a few days so they were on hand straight away that morning!
Make up was perfectly done by Aimee Chorley– a Lakeland girl who certainly worked her magic with her brushes and was so lovely to natter away to. Both the hair and makeup girls were like part of the bridal party. Aimee said she’d never known a more chilled out and relaxed morning! (Even if she did have a slight heart attack when she walked in to see my dress, the dress she had married in just two weeks earlier!! What are the chances!)
All cards. hangers and extra touches were LoveLeigh Designs.
We had a one night mini-moon in a gorgeously quirky favourite Lakeland place of mine called Randy Pike where Andy and Chrissy looked after us like family. We spent our time on long walks, had dinner in The Jumble Room (amazing- try it!!) and saw a movie! Our official honeymoon will be in Chicago to go and visit my godparents who couldn’t make it to the wedding- we have yet to organise it!