29th April 2017
Mr & Mrs Smith
Paul and I met in Manchester in December 2013. However, due to a busy festive period on both our parts, we didn’t have our first date until the New Year. We still have his train ticket from New Mills to Manchester city centre framed in our apartment. We knew it was serious when, despite his deep-rooted suspicion for the city, he started spending more time in Manchester than his beloved countryside!
Since then, we have been almost inseparable and have crammed as much fun and adventure into our time together as possible. It was on a beautiful trip to Montenegro in September 2015 that Paul got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I said yes immediately and it finally made sense why he was so agitated when his suitcase hadn’t appeared at luggage reclaim in Dubrovnik airport. Little did I know at the time that my stunning engagement ring was casually hidden in a ball of socks in the hold luggage!
Paul had truly excelled himself with the ring. He knew how much I love emeralds (my birth stone) and yellow gold and had gone to the jeweller (J R Garner Working Jeweller in Stockport) and helped design a ring that he knew I would love. It was perfect and knowing that Paul had put so much thought into what the ring would look like, made it even more special.
We were so excited to let our friends and family know and due to the limited Wi-Fi access in Montenegro, our first significant wedding expense was our huge phone bills, calling and facetiming everyone and everybody.
We set about making wedding plans as soon as we got home. We knew we didn’t want a particularly long engagement as unfortunately Paul’s dad had been poorly for some time so we threw ourselves into organising and decided on April 2017 as our date.
It was important for us to get married in Manchester city centre, as that’s where our home is and where we met, fell in love and spent most of our time together. We also knew we wanted outdoor space and somewhere where we haven’t been before to see our friends get married. The list was small and after visiting several venues we were beginning to wonder if what we wanted actually existed and how much we would have to compromise.
It was around that time that someone suggested we try Chetham’s Library. I knew of the school and have walked past it countless times but I’m embarrassed to say that in all my years of living in Manchester I had never actually visited the library! A quick google search confirmed that it seemed to tick all the boxes so Paul made an appointment the next day.
Walking under the arches into the library’s courtyard on our first visit, Paul and I turned to each other and gave a look. “This is it.” It was breath-taking and we could already imagine our guests stood on the courtyard, sipping gin fizzes in all their finery. We met Adam from Vanilla in all Seasons and every room he showed us on our tour confirmed that this was the venue for us. That was even before Adam started showing us pictures of potential menu choices! The partnership of such an amazing venue with such unbelievable caterers left us in no doubt that this was where we were going to spend our big day. From the moment we booked, the delicious tasting and every email and query in-between, Adam and the staff at Chetham’s were amazing. They couldn’t have been more accommodating, professional and kind to us on the lead up to our big day.
With the venue booked, everything else started falling into place. We sent out our Save the Dates, a play on our married name being “The Smiths” with a fraught and impromptu photo shoot outside the Salford Lads club and spoke to Lindsay Robinson at Lindsay Design about designing our wedding invitations and stationery. We had a million and one ideas but no clue about how they would come together or what they would look like but Lindsay was amazing, listening to us, making suggestions and ultimately pulling together everything that we wanted. We were delighted and couldn’t wait to post our invitations out to our friends.
I had a very clear idea about what I wanted my dress to look like. I didn’t want to look too ‘bridey’ and had even toyed with the idea of wearing a green cocktail dress. However, as I hear is often the way, as soon as I began trying on dresses, all my preconceived notions went out of the window. I thought I had decided on my dress but went along to Natalie Ann Brides to make sure I hadn’t missed something! I had always thought people who said “you know the dress for you when you try it on” were exaggerating. However, as soon as Catherine slipped the Mori Lee dress on me, I knew it was my wedding dress. I even shouted as much from the changing room to my mum and sister, Kate before I had seen myself properly in the mirror! Paul had already decided he wanted the men to wear the Peter Posh Westbury suit and luckily Natalie Ann were also a stocklist for them so we felt pretty pleased with ourselves. Finding the perfect bridesmaid dresses proved less straightforward as I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for. In the end, I decided to get them made. One of my bridesmaids recommended Jenny Sinnott who had previously made her bridesmaid dresses. She scored massive bridesmaid points, as Jenny was fantastic! She even ended up making my mum’s dress!
Kiera from Kiera’s Occasions was booked to do our venue dressing and put us in touch with Sara from Zsa Zsa Florist in Billinge. Sara was phenomenal, listening to exactly what I wanted, patiently wading through my myriad of Pinterest boards and screen shots and executing the most beautiful floral arrangements. My friend Sarah made the cake and we spent many Monday afternoons experimenting with glitter to get the perfect amount of sparkle on the cake! My mum introduced me to Kate Williams, our photographer as they do yoga together! Paul hates having his picture taken so for Kate to be able to put even him at ease shows just how amazing she is. We were clear that we wanted the photos to be natural and for us not to be tied up all day in formal poses and Kate made sure this happened and that we could enjoy our day.
The morning of the wedding was so much fun! I stayed at my parents and my mum had utilised every single one of her project management skills to ensure the morning ran smoothly with lots of time for fun, laughter and of course a couple of glasses of champagne. My bridesmaids, mum and I spent the morning at H&B Hairdressing before Kate Hayes (Kate Hayes Make Up) came to do our make up while my dad and bridesman John ensured our glasses were topped up!
Finally, it was time to set off to the venue in freshly valeted black cabs, in keeping with the city theme. I think my dad and I laughed for the whole journey but he did manage to offer some advice on having a long and happy marriage like him and my mum. We walked up the aisle to The Ramones, Baby I Love You and it was such an amazing moment to see all the faces of friends and family who’d made such an effort to travel from places as far flung as Australia, Amsterdam, Sweden and Stockport! The ceremony was gorgeous and immediately after we were finally able to realise our vision of sharing a gin fizz with our guests in the courtyard. The food and drink flowed all day until our evening guests arrived at 8pm and Under The Covers got the party started! Paul and I knew what an amazing night it had been as the next day both our feet hurt from dancing and faces ached from smiling so much! We’re still receiving compliments on how amazing the food, venue and day was now.
One thing that made our wedding truly magical was that despite his health deteriorating, Paul’s dad could spend our special day with us. We even have video of him spinning my mum around during our first dance, Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac. Unfortunately, he passed away the next day, which just makes all the photographs Kate captured and the memories of an unforgettable day even more precious.
Venue – Chethams Library – www.library.chethams.com
Catering – Vanilla in all Seasons – www.vanillainallseasons.co.uk
Lighting – Hipswing – www.hipswing.co.uk
Photography – Kate Williams – www.kate-williams.co.uk
Music – Under The Covers – www.underthecoversband.co.uk
Wedding Dress – Natalie Ann Brides – www.natalieannbrides.com
Stationery – Lindsay Robinson – www.lindsaydesign.co.uk
Love Letters – Love Lights The Way – www.lovelightstheway.co.uk