Alex and Paul’s wedding day at Bowcliffe Hall was exactly as a wedding day should be, full of fun, laughter and entirely representative of the couple themselves. After drinks in the Drivers’ Club, Alex and Paul held their beautiful wedding breakfast in the Ballroom – a perfect setting for the couples classic decoration. The night do – held in the Blackburn Wing – was exactly as they envisaged, a space that truly knocked guests socks off. Here’s the story behind Alex and Paul and their wedding at Bowcliffe… it’s a good one!
We’ve lived about four miles from Bowcliffe Hall for almost three years, yet never knew about it! We must have driven past the signs so many times but it’s so well tucked away – a real hidden gem. We’d already looked around a few venues but, because we both like to get things done, had started to look at locations and venue types that weren’t totally ‘us’. We were really happy (and relieved) to eventually find ‘the one’ on our doorstep, and to have driven away without any worries!
We met just over six years ago at a house party, although, as we soon found out, we were actually living in the same block of flats at the time.
Paul proposed on New Year’s Day, under a huge stone arch in the Parlington Estate. It’s about 10 minutes’ walk from our house and I like that we can walk back and relive the memories whenever we want. Fifteen months later, on our wedding day, we even took the wedding photographer there to get some photos under the arch.
I’d never really given the finer wedding details much thought over the years, as I figured that my tastes might change or that the groom would have some ideas, too. But I knew I wanted a traditional church ceremony and a classic feel, with a few creative twists that would keep things interesting.
I tried on all sorts of dresses, as you never really know what’s going to suit you ‘til you get it on. The defining moment was when I went shopping with my now sister-in-law and tried on a slash-necked Audrey Hepburn style dress with a full skirt. I knew then that I wanted something that nipped in at the waist and relatively high on the neck, so I could relax and not worry about any wardrobe mishaps. When I found a photo of ‘the dress’ online and it was from an old collection, we were all ready to call every stockist in the UK but luckily found a sample in Manchester.
We met in a very traditional way at a house party and bumped into each other a few days later and started a long dating game!
I’d been planning to propose for a couple of months and wanted to do it somewhere near to us. As we walk to the arch a lot, I decided to do it there.
We wanted to have a really fun, relaxed day with good food and ambience. When we first looked around the venue, we just had the feeling that it was the right place.
As the church is very close to our house, the groom and most of the groomsmen walked there – with umbrellas just in case! My dad and I travelled in a silver Bentley S Type and my mum and our two bridesmaids went ahead in a chauffeur-driven Mercedes.
Ultimately, we wanted our guests to have a great time and feel comfortable, but we wanted to give them an experience, too. Bowcliffe gave us a great setting and some really quirky details that we knew people would love, like the car memorabilia in the Drivers Club and the elegance and light of the Ballroom. The Blackburn Wing was our absolute favourite and gave us gorgeous views, indoor and outdoor space and little breakout areas where people could chat or rest their feet.
How did you choose your venue?
We were very realistic about the venues we looked around, typically going for older venues with a bit of character. Bowcliffe is stunning, but the thing that stood out was the quality of the fixtures and fittings, the cleanliness and even the smell when we walked in! Everything was pristine, and we knew that meant our day would be, too.
The Blackburn Wing really did it for us. It wasn’t like anything we’d seen before, and we thought it would really make our evening do an experience.
The venue was already perfect for what we wanted to be a classic, elegant day, so we tried to enhance it rather than changing it. Our table centres were clear glass fish bowls with simple gypsophila, with sparkly gold mats just visible underneath. They would have looked a bit too bling on their own, but the hint of sparkle just set it off and tied in with the gold wallpaper. We also made our own table numbers by sticking large cardboard letters – one for each letter of our shared surname – onto strips of dowel, painting them white with gold splats and propping them into each floral table centre. Other than that, we sprinkled paper confetti on the tables and dotted little bottles of bubbles around for a bit of fun.
I wanted quite a rustic-looking bouquet and had always had a soft spot for sea holly, but it was only when we decided on navy bridesmaid dresses that we realised we could tie them in! As everything came together, we started to get quite a few navy elements, so the cornflower blue of the sea holly, white flowers and plenty of greenery, helped to break it all up.
We had two bridesmaids, five groomsmen and one flower girl. The bridesmaids wore v-neck sleeveless navy dresses which were nipped in at the waist like mine, and we found a gorgeous mini version for the flower girl at Monsoon. The groomsmen wore grey tails with a silver waistcoat and pale blue cravat, to complement the navy theme and create quite a formal look.
We were both nervous about the ceremony, with the standard worries about tripping down the aisle or forgetting what to say! Thankfully the team at the church had everything in hand and really relaxed us both, so much so that I clearly remember the walk and looking at everyone. Surprisingly neither of us got emotional – I think everyone was just very focused. I walked down the aisle to The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, which we both loved when we first heard it.
THE FOOD AND DRINK
We are both really big fans of food, so this was one of our favourite parts! We’re relatively adventurous but not all of our guests were, so we wanted to keep the dishes quite traditional. In the end, we went for chicken for the main (with the most amazing pressed potato, sage and bacon) and Bowcliffe’s take on Eton Mess for dessert. We went off-piste with the starter and had a trio of pierogi, which is a traditional Polish dish. As Paul’s family comes from Poland, we thought it was a nice nod to them, and hoped people would like trying something new – even though we kept the fillings fairly simple.
Our favours were macarons, partly because we love them and also because they seemed to fit with the luxurious theme of the Ballroom. We spent days making up the tiny cardboard favour boxes, which drove us mad, but packing the macarons in the day before, and munching on the leftovers, was a lovely reward!
Tell us about the cake…
I have to credit Pinterest for the cake design – I just loved the simplicity of the white royal icing and the bold gold pattern. It was made by one of Paul’s former colleagues, who once made a cake for the Queen, and we went for three flavours – Victoria sponge at the bottom, chocolate in the middle and fruit cake on the top. I’ve never been a fan of fruitcake but tried it seeing as it was in our wedding cake and have never looked back – I’m a true convert and we were nibbling away at leftovers for days.
We love wedding photo booths and wanted to have something similar, so decided on a caricaturist to capture as many guests as possible. We also had a DJ who played classic songs to get people dancing. Our first dance was to Etta James’ At Last.
We rounded up the troops and thanked the team as we left – it must have been such a long day for them but you wouldn’t have known it.
We contacted several photographers but ended up choosing the one who took my brother’s wedding photos down in Cambridge, Peter Oliver at Peter Oliver Photography. We knew he’d do a great job and he has a skill for catching people completely unaware, to get some really natural, romantic photos. He was also a really good price and we didn’t feel we missed out by not going for a team of two. We asked for several traditional family and group shots but mainly wanted some relaxed shots to remember the day. We loved the photos when we got them a few weeks later and already have our favourites up in the living room.
Wedding dress: True Bride at La Fleur Bridal, Manchester
Bridesmaid dresses: JJ’s House
Groomsmen outfits: Moss Bros
RINGS: H Samuel
FLORIST: The Topiary Tree Florist, Malton
CAKE: Mandy Gater-Ferguson
TRANSPORT: Classic and Vintage Travel Harrogate
Thank you so much to Alex and Paul for sharing the intimate details of your beautiful day with us, we loved having you.
Bowcliffe Hall is unlike a traditional country house wedding venue. If you decide to say ‘I do’ here, the entire Estate is at your disposal, and our events team will do everything in their power to ensure every detail of your day is perfect. To enquire simply email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01937 541111.
Rachel and Marek’s winter wedding held on New Year’s Eve was truly the stuff that dreams are made of. With a brief to create an incredible NYE Black Tie Ball, there was something about the decor of all white flowers (flown in from South America) and hallways filled with storm lanterns and flickering tealights. The Hall felt like it had been born to hold such lavish affairs. Top that off with Rachel’s dress – which looked like it had come straight from the movies – dancing until the early morning in The Wing, and a stunning fireworks display at the stroke of midnight, it was as close to perfection as we’ve seen.
All photos are © Joel Skingle Photography
Marek visited Bowcliffe for an event the September before we got engaged and it instantly impressed. Once we got engaged it was immediately on our shortlist! After meeting a few members of staff including owner Jonathan, everyone’s enthusiasm and interest in us as a couple meant Bowcliffe was the place for us. Marek is a big car man and the theme of the Drivers’ Club just added to the appeal.
Marek and I immediately hit it off; I still wonder how we had never met living so close to one another for so long! Having had three happy years of travelling, food and enjoying each other’s company I’d mentioned my idea of a New Year’s Eve wedding before the engagement, it just seemed the perfect time for a Big Day! I had no idea Marek was going to propose and he really made me feel like a princess. I did nothing but cry for the next hour, and we had to leave the ball and call my parents!
Bowcliffe was the first venue we visited and immediately set the standard. It didn’t take long for us to make our final decision! I wanted a dress that accentuated my curves, had an open back with intricate lace detail. Demi and the team at the White Gallery in Ramsbottom found the one that was perfect for me, an haute couture dress by Riki Dalal.
The big day at Bowcliffe made all my dreams come true. Marek and our families did everything in their power to make it perfect and Laura and the staff made it run like clockwork.
Rachel and I met in a local pub one night; somewhere we both went regularly. Despite this, we had never met until that night where we instantly connected. Within the week we had been out together three or four times and we quickly became each other’s best friends! For New Year’s Eve 2016 we went to Edinburgh for a Hogmanay Black Tie Ball at The Balmoral. I’d already bought the ring, and knew it’d be the perfect start to the New Year. On the stroke of midnight, I proposed under the fireworks!
I’m a pretty relaxed person and I think my laid-back approach frustrated Rachel. When the day finally arrived, it wasn’t really nerves, more of a ‘let’s do this’. The morning of the wedding was a really good laugh, from the last minute learning how to fold a pocket square using YouTube videos, to the journey from our house to Bowcliffe; it cemented friendships and created memories.
The bride, bride’s family and friends all stopped over at The Grand Hotel in York the night before where they had a family meal. Rachel arrived by private car on the wedding day with her parents, the groom arrived with the best man and ushers in a Bentley Mulsanne provided by JCT600 an hour before the ceremony began, in readiness to welcome in the other guests arriving.
We went into the decision-making process pretty open-minded, other than the date and style of the occasion: New Year’s Eve 2017 and Black Tie Ball. Having visited Bowcliffe in the past, we knew what was available and this set a standard for others to match.
Nowhere we visited offered the quality and sophistication that Bowcliffe did. It was the only venue we visited twice! Other places felt like ‘just another wedding venue’ whereas Bowcliffe didn’t; to us, it felt special and that this was our day.
The idea was an elegant black tie event with an art-deco touch and Bowcliffe fit this bill. The flowers from Red Floral and other little touches like the mirror showing the day’s events in the foyer, the storm lanterns and the use of the lighting in the Ballroom and Blackburn wing were all that was needed to make it just right.
Rachel chose Red Floral for the flowers & decoration. A meeting with Matt from Red Floral confirmed everything we believed and we knew we could trust him implicitly. The main brief for the décor was elegant and the flowers had to be hydrangeas (one of Rachel’s favourite!).
Matt visited Bowcliffe and agreed it was fantastic and confirmed that due to the sophistication and taste of Bowcliffe, not a lot was needed to meet the brief. The flowers arrived from South America three days before the wedding and Matt and his team did a wonderful job, incorporating the flowers with the décor of Bowcliffe and storm lanterns/tea lights.
Rachel had four bridesmaids and three flower girls; all dressed in Champagne coloured dresses from Goddiva to fit in with the theme. They all looked stunning!
Marek had four groomsmen and one pageboy, with the best man returning the favour from 2012! They were all dressed in matching tuxedos from Next.
The room looked stunning and the flower girls walked down the aisle first, spreading rose petals, followed by the bridesmaids. The rings were tied to a pillow held by the pageboy.
In Rachel’s words “It’s all a blur. I just wanted to get to him [Marek]” It was an emotional occasion for all the right reasons: the atmosphere, the guests, the readings and the ceremony. A day nobody will forget.”
THE FOOD AND DRINK
Chef Andy Lawson did an absolutely fantastic job of the Wedding Breakfast! Everyone commended the quality. We attended a tasting evening to decide on the final menu. We settled on a starter of Yorkshire Pork Terrine with apple and rhubarb chutney and salt and vinegar crackling; main was Fillet of Dales Beef with root vegetable dauphinoise and oxtail bon-bon. All finished with our own choice trio of desserts! The father of the bride said it was the best beef ‘he ever did taste’!
The wine selection was brilliant and certainly a wine lovers dream! In the end, we settled on a good trio of white, rose and red with Nyetimber (From West Sussex) as the bubbles for the toast.
In the evening Bowcliffe sourced a hog roast for us, the perfect party food.
Suzanne at The Frostery provided the cake. Her design and cake making skills were the best we saw and tasted. The cake was art deco style to fit in with the theme but with a modern, asymmetric design with a pocket watch made of icing on the top. Flavours were red velvet, Vanilla with raspberry and champagne, lemon drizzle with limoncello and lime and coconut.
Early in our relationship, we attended a summer BBQ where a Ska/Jazz/Blues band called Louis Louis Louis were playing. Their final song was a cover of The Jungle book in a Jazz style. When it came to planning the big day It seemed natural to have them. They arrived for before the drinks reception and played live jazz in the Drivers Club into the afternoon.
As the evening progressed, they quickly transferred down to The Blackburn Wing where they played our first dance, which they had learned, for us: The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra.
Darren from The Hi-Life took over to take the party into the early hours and into the New Year, playing a mix of hits from the 60’s through to present day.
On the stroke of midnight, Laura at Bowcliffe had arranged fireworks for us and they were just awesome! The perfect way to end the day and start the New Year as Husband and Wife.
Bowcliffe provided everything we wanted and more. Laura and the team were superb on the day and put everything we’d discussed on the numerous visits before into practice. We can’t thank them enough. To all our family and friends who helped make the day special, thank you to all you too. Overall, it was the best day of our lives and it was at Bowcliffe Hall!
The last thing that anyone did was witness the dance-off between Rachel’s brother and Marek’s friend Josh. It looked planned but we can ensure anyone who saw that it wasn’t!
Joel Skingle from Richmond in North Yorkshire was our wedding photographer. He was excellent. His work demonstrates a modern theme that is refreshing from the norm and he captured as many natural shots as possible. He recommended his friend Mark Lenik as a videographer and they really bounced off each other, with Mark working tirelessly throughout the day and night. We’d really recommend both of them to capture the big day.
Photos: Joel Skingle
Video: Mark Lenik
Brides dress: Riki Dalal provided by The White Gallery in Ramsbottom
Wedding Lingerie: Bride Sew Beautiful, Ramsbottom
Perfume: Fu*king Fabulous, Tom Ford, Sloane Street
Groom’s Suit: Hugo Boss
Shoes: Bride: Jimmy Choo, Sloane Street, Groom: Magnanni, Harrods
Bridesmaids dresses: Goddiva
Flower Girls dresses: Custom made
Best Man/Ushers suits: Tuxedos from Next
Rings: Berrys, Albion Street, Leeds
Florist: Red Floral
Cake: The Frostery, Oldham
Band: Louis, Louis, Louis
DJ: The Hi-Life
Transport: JCT600 Bentley, Leeds
Wedding Stationery: East View Designs
Hair: Soul Bawtry
Make-up: Bethan Victoria Makeup Artist
Michelle and Stephen’s wedding at Bowcliffe Hall was exactly as a wedding should be. The Bride and Groom looked incredible, the venue was a knockout (!) and every moment was filled with a genuine feeling of happiness and love. The couple utilised every inch of the Estate, including a ceremony in the Bowcliffe Room, a blessing in the Chapel, drinks in the Drivers’ Club and the reception of dreams (with an incredibly cool live band) inside the Blackburn Wing.
Pure wedding magic.
We live locally to Bowcliffe Hall and my (now husband!) Steve is also a member of the Drivers’ Club, so he knew the venue well. When I saw the Hall for the first time I knew instantly that it was going to be the place where we would get married.
Steve and I met at work and have been together for four years. Steve proposed whilst on holiday in the Maldives and we were married exactly a year later. From the start, we were both focused on ensuring that the wedding would be intimate and tailored to the things we love the most.
I went with my mum to select my wedding dress and I was more than delighted with the end result. It was by British Designer Nicola Anne from her vintage collection. I have never felt so amazing in a dress and I absolutely loved the lace detail and the fishtail.
I hadn’t really planned the proposal in advance; I just felt the time was right and that it would be good to have time alone whilst we were on holiday. The biggest challenge was keeping the ring hidden and safe until I actually proposed. I have to admit I was paranoid she’d find it or I’d lose it before I actually asked her! Luckily, I kept it safe and decided to ask her mid-way through our holiday, one morning after breakfast. I’d written the big question in the sand before we went to breakfast and thankfully it was still there when we headed to the beach!
For our wedding, we wanted somewhere different and unforgettable. I’d always thought Bowcliffe might fit the bill but never mentioned it to Michelle. When we first visited together it was fantastic. She loved it and that made the decision so easy – we didn’t even visit anywhere else. It was a perfect choice.
I had always wanted a bespoke tailored suit so I treated myself to one for the special day. I tracked down a tailor I’d met at a dinner a few years earlier as I’d promised him that if I ever was going to have a suit tailored then I’d ask him. He did a fantastic job. I finished off the suit with a pair of Jeffery West Navy Brogues.
As for the day itself; it was an amazing mix of friends & family, sunshine & showers, food & drink, speeches & pictures, gin & tonic and chat & dance! And somewhere in between all that, we fitted in a wedding! We enjoyed and savoured every minute.
Michelle: I arrived with both my mum and dad in a cream Beauford Cabriolet. I shall never forget being in the car with my parents and the laughs we had on the way. It was a special moment of feeling very excited about the day ahead, which we shall all treasure forever.
The grounds are fantastic and really allowed our guests to relax and enjoy themselves. Starting with a drink in the in Drivers’ Club and some sunshine (before the rain) on the beautiful Terrace!
We had a vision for a small intimate family wedding with around 50 guests at the ceremony and wedding breakfast, with an additional 20 joining us for the evening celebrations. The Hall is so unique with the various rooms that we decided to use the entire venue including The Blackburn Wing and after the ceremony, we went to have a wedding blessing alone with only our parents in the tiny Chapel. It was very special for us both. It was a moment of calm and reflection which gave us all time to truly appreciate our wedding and the day.
Choosing Bowcliffe was an easy decision as it is so very unique. It was the only venue we visited and we were so pleased with our choice. We love the grounds and Hall completely, everything is immaculate and the attention to detail, as well as the quirky individual touches throughout the venue, are second to none. All our guests commented on how different and amazing it was. We decided to have our wedding breakfast in The Wing, and as the sun shone down on the beautiful Yorkshire countryside it felt heavenly.
In terms of a theme, it was cream with a touch of pink, very subtle and classic. The Bowcliffe team accommodated our every wish and the rooms looked amazing, utilising the lighting with hints of pink throughout.
We had a mixture of cream and pink roses with a little greenery. Simple but classic.
The song I walked down the aisle to was Canon and Gigue in D Major by Johann Pachelbel.
My dad walked me down the aisle and we were both so very happy. It meant the world to me to have my dad by my side as I walked towards Steve. I felt amazing and could feel the love and happiness filling the room around me as I saw the faces of my family and friends.
We were both so incredibly happy and it went in a blur. There’s a fantastic photo of us signing the register in our own new married world whilst our 2-year-old nephew is laid on his tummy playing with a car in the middle of the aisle in his own world, completely oblivious to everything else going on. Priceless.
THE FOOD AND DRINK
The three-course meal was delicious and enjoyed by all. We were served efficiently and the wine chosen by Michael to complement our meal was fabulous. A delicious Fleurie and classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, with a class or two of Tattinger for the toasts, helped it all go down perfectly.
The cake was a traditional, delicious fruitcake from Bettys. However, our God Daughter’s Peppa Pig birthday cake (she was 2 a few days before and we all sang happy birthday to her) also appeared to be just as popular with our guests!
We’d decided we’d have a live band. After hours of reviewing potential bands, we decided on Purple Velvet and were not disappointed. They did a fab job and ensured we had guests up dancing right the way through the evening. Our first dance was to John Legend ‘All of Me’. It was very romantic and perhaps a little slow to dance to but it meant a lot to us and that was the important thing. After that, the tempo certainly picked up with everybody joining in.
It’s so difficult to pick out a favourite moment but I guess the speeches were very special and just the overall feeling of happiness with all our family and friends enjoying the celebration with us.
Michael and his team looked after us amazingly well. From the outset, we were made to feel relaxed about the day as we knew it would be wonderful. Michael took the time to understand what we were individually looking for and we carefully planned out our day together. With the level of care and planning from start to finish, as well as the truly unique Bowcliffe Hall, we achieved a perfect wedding day that not only will Steve and I never forget, neither will our guests!
Our photographer Catherine from Eyecapture Photography was amazing from start to finish. Catherine wanted us to be relaxed throughout the day and capture all our special moments, which she most certainly did. We were delighted with the end results.
PHOTOGRAPHER – Catherine Kerr, Eyecapture Photography
SHOES – Nine West / Jeffery West
RINGS – Berrys
FLORIST – Best Friends Mum, Barbara Leeming.
CAKE – Bettys
BAND/DJ – Purple Velvet
TRANSPORT – The Yorkshire Wedding Car Co
Romy and Stuart got engaged in Italy and chose to hold their wedding at Bowcliffe Hall in 2016. In one of the most elegant occasions we’ve had the joy to help organise and host, super-organised project manager Romy orchestrated every moment of her perfect day with help from the Bowcliffe team.
Inspired by Italy, and images of Audrey Hepburn, Anne Gunning and Jean Patchett for Vogue, the entire day was beautiful, simple and uncomplicated. The couple and their guests had the entire estate at their disposal, dining in the elegant Bowcliffe Room and dancing into the night in the Drivers’ Club.
We spoke to the couple about the lead up to their day and the most special moments from their time spent at Bowcliffe…
A little about you, what did you want from your wedding?
I really believe that a little girl thinks about her wedding day from an early age, no matter what they tell you. My only absolute was that I wanted it to be elegant, simple, and for all our family and friends to have a wonderful time.
What style dress did you want?
Sticking with the simplicity theme, I wanted it to be silk, white and uncomplicated. I originally designed my own dress, but as the years passed my tastes changed somewhat, although there were still some of the same elements there. I love the photographer Norman Parkinson and his images of Audrey Hepburn, Anne Gunning and Jean Patchett for Vogue really inspire me. They ooze elegance.
I spent a weekend in London with my mum and maid of honour. It was fantastic. Visiting Browns Brides and all the amazing boutiques, you feel really special as a bride-to-be. My dress turned out to be the first I tried on. I think we all knew but still carried on as it was so much fun.
Mum found my veil in Browns Brides and instantly she knew it would work with the dress, handmade by a little old lady in Rome, designed by Peter Langham for Dior, it was so delicate. I then found my shoes, a pair of Valentino Rock studs. I felt complete.m
Tell us the story behind the way you and your husband met and how he proposed?
We used to work together and it was only when I left the company and met him at the gym with his brother that we really started talking. From there we started dating and two years later he proposed at the Colosseum in Rome.
How long had you been engaged?
We saved for 18 months before the big day.
What was the vision for the day?
Amazing food and slightly Italian inspired given we love Italy.
Tell us about the story of how you both met…
We worked together and she was unbelievably annoying. But it’s her enthusiasm for her work that I love.
How did you propose and how much planning did it take?
It was hard to plan as she usually knows everything that’s going on, have you ever tried keeping a secret from a project manager?! I had mentioned to her that I was going to propose with a toy ring when the time was right but that didn’t go down very well. She showed me a picture of what her ideal style would be and I made sure I locked that image in my mind. I visited a small jewellers in York to have her ring designed and made, as I thought it would feel more personal and I felt more involved. She was completely unaware. We then planned a holiday to Rome and I thought it would be perfect to do it there, originally my friend (a pilot) was going to fly us out and she made a joke about how it would be terribly embarrassing if she was proposed to over a plane tannoy. Not my plan, but, I thought she knew, so I was a little worried. I visited her father the day before and asked his permission. I think he was overjoyed and shed a tear.
In Rome, I wanted to find the perfect place to propose. We had visited the Colosseum during the day and she wanted to go back at night, I thought that would be perfect. IT TOOK TWO DAYS TO GO BACK! I was a wreck waiting but it was fantastic, all lit up and quiet. Shaking I got down on one knee, only for her to ask me ‘gosh are you ok?’ I told her to shut up for a second and asked her. That word every man hopes for squeaked from her mouth…’Yes!’
What did you want from the wedding day? Were you both in agreement?
We were in agreement! It started with us discussing an Italian theme and her showing me all these stunning locations she had shot in and it went from there.
What did you want to wear and was it an easy decision?
Tails and yes because I’ve always wanted a very traditional style of outfit and it had to be something I wouldn’t normally wear. Of course, Romy had to have an input and I wanted something that would pull me apart from the ushers so she bought me a tie from Liberty with a nice print, and the same blue as the bridesmaids’ dresses. I also wanted a really nice pair of shoes, wedding fever got the better of me and I bought two pairs, Geoffrey West and Church’s. They still didn’t cost as much as her one pair!
What’s your day-to-day style as a couple?
Casual, she makes me dress up from time to time. But she’s really a Dubarry wearing country girl.
What did you want from your venue and how did you come to choose Bowcliffe?
We visited a number of places and got fed up of being told about ‘options’. Silver gets you this, Gold a little extra and Platinum… We just wanted our wedding, not a menu that everyone else has already tried and tested.
My father had been to Bowcliffe for the Old Farts’ event. He said “Romy, you need to speak to them”, so I looked online and we made an appointment. Annie met us and she was as mad as me. We then met Michael and he was organised and all about the finer details. I loved it!
Was it an easy decision and what factors made you realise it was the perfect place for your wedding?
The car history was amazing and this is something close to mine and my dad’s heart so that was a factor. Most of all it was the atmosphere and those words, ‘what do you want?’ followed by ‘we will make it happen’.
Which part of the venue did you love the most?
The Drivers’ Club. But honestly you could put me in any room and it felt comfortable.
Did you need to do much to the venue to get it to the style you wanted? What did you add?
We didn’t touch the décor to be honest. As soon as I saw the rooms and table arrangements I knew we didn’t need to add anything. The motto ‘less is more’ was said a few times and the venue speaks for itself.
Was any of it DIY?
We mirrored the ghost chairs with thick clear acrylic numbers and table plan, the idea of having something there but it blending in was ideal. I work in the design industry so very quickly visualised the room and understood we didn’t need to cover every surface. The small details that Jonathan (Bowcliffe owner) and the team have incorporated into every room may not be noticed by everyone but I was overjoyed with them, the history and the story behind every aspect. It’s what makes Bowcliffe Hall memorable.
I originally wanted peonies but given the time of year they were not readily available. I’m not a huge flowers girl. Our garden has an abundance of rosemary and lavender as that’s the only thing I’ve not killed… Yet!
So I spoke to one of my colleagues, whose sister is a florist and she came all the way from Wales, based on a brief; I didn’t really want anything in the rooms, nothing on the tables, my bouquets and the bridesmaids to be similar, but different sizes. When Becca and Gina came over they understood why, the venue just didn’t need it.
So I had large roses in a soft butter white to match the colour of my dress and pale pink to match my shoes, these had small bursts of honeysuckle because I love the smell. The bridesmaids’ were the same without the honeysuckle and Stuart wore a buttonhole with one rose, honeysuckle, and rosemary. All the ushers had one single rose.
The arrangement over the fireplace was roses, honeysuckle, and rosemary – and it smelled fantastic!
We had two, that’s my lucky number and I like symmetry. It just so happened Charlotte and Sarah are very similar in appearance and the same dress size. They are stunning so it was easy shopping for them. The bridesmaid dresses were by Ghost. My mum shops at Ghost a lot and found out about their dye to order, I looked at the styles and thought if they wanted a different style they could still be the same colour, it just so happened they each came out in their favourite dress Salma in Sky Light.
We were married at our local Church, which is St Mary’s in South Milford. John the vicar is lovely and made everything so personal. I had to walk down the aisle to Wedding March, as it’s a classic. We had 54 people in total to both the ceremony and reception. However, a few more distant friends and family also attended the church, which was lovely.
Who walked you down the aisle, were they emotional?
My father. He kept his cool.
Did you have any readings?
My cousin, Saku, read ‘Forever’ by Emma Dodd and made everyone cry. He was fantastic. Jan, a good friend and wife to one of the ushers, read 1 Corinthians 13 again she was amazing and it meant so much to us. We wanted something personal and knowing John the vicar and him knowing us, it was just that. Everyone commented on how wonderful it was and I think everyone shed a tear. The whole service was memorable, watching peoples’ faces, sharing that moment and hearing my parents-in-law say ‘they are not losing a son, they’re gaining a beautiful daughter.’
We really didn’t need any. Bowcliffe had so much to offer with its grounds that there was enough to take in. Our first dance was Hall & Oates, ‘You Make My Dreams Come True’, chosen by Stuart, which took place on the terrace. He even had a few simple jive lessons from my maid of honour’s fiancés’ mum!
Did you have a band?
We didn’t have a band, just a playlist that covered everything we love, mainly Motown and classics. We’re clearly old at heart, with eclectic taste.
What was your favourite moment during the entertainment?
Everyone on the dance floor singing, and the final dance to Foy Vance, ‘Shed a Little Light’, which was my first dance choice.
We had an amazing meal from Bowcliffe’s executive chef, John Topham.
To start – crab and scallop lasagna
Main – tournedos fillet Rossini with triple cooked chips
Dessert – vanilla panna cotta, with freeze-dried and fresh fruit, strawberry sorbet, and meringue shards
It was stunning and we have been told by every guest it was divine, and wonderfully constructed.
George Coppock captured every moment of our day. He is a friend and I’ve worked with him on a number of projects so feel very comfortable with him, which I think is really important. Photographers have such a hard job, they can’t be everywhere and he has provided an amazing collection of shots. He even sent select images to us on our honeymoon so we could relive the day and remember the whirlwind. When we returned they were all ready and we had a full evening with Prosecco going through them. It felt personal and told us the story of our day.
Dress – Bridal Rogue Gallery, Pronovias
Shoes: Mine – Valentino. His – Geoffrey West and Church’s
Groomsmen outfits: Youngs
Venue: Bowcliffe Hall
Bridesmaid dresses: Salma Dress in Sky Light, Ghost
Transport: Audi and a Jaguar provided by Jonathan Turner, owner of Bowcliffe Hall
Catering: John Topham, Bowcliffe Hall
Gemma and Ben chose Bowcliffe Hall as the venue for their beautiful wedding on Saturday 3rd September 2016. From start to finish, the couple’s adoration of each other and the venue was more than apparent. They took over the entire Estate – making use of every inch of the beautiful grounds including the Private Member’s Drivers’ Club, the newly restored Ballroom and of course the spectacular Blackburn Wing. We wanted to find a little more about their choices on the day – including their show-stopping entrances, and any memories that really stood out…
The Bride – Gemma Illingworth, 31
I chose to spend the big day in my own version of a fairytale gown, a backless, lace fishtail style Martina Liana from Ava Rose Hamilton in Silsden. It was absolutely perfect. I treated myself to a pair of Jimmy Choo Luna shoes and a matching Jimmy Choo clutch. My hair and make was done by the talented Anna Stephenson.
The Groom – Ben Buckley, 35
I wanted to wear something timeless and classic, so I went for black Diesel jeans, a white Hawes & Curtis shirt, pink paisley Hawes & Curtis tie and bespoke one off waistcoat by Brook Taverner. My shoes were Jeffery West Norton Boots and I owe my hair to the guys at The Grooming Rooms in Haworth.
As soon as we visited Bowcliffe we knew it was the venue for us. In terms of variety and sheer quality there is nothing like it. The Blackburn Wing was without doubt the crowning glory for us and we knew we wanted to get married and hold the reception inside this magnificent treehouse.
The ability to have our photos in both the modern Wing as well as in the decadent Drivers’ Club and stunning Ballroom was a dream come true. Guests couldn’t stop raving about the venue and grounds.
Michael and the entire hospitality team couldn’t do enough for us, and when they say every wedding at Bowcliffe is bespoke, it really couldn’t be closer to the truth. We were given so many options as to where we could get married, hold the reception and take photographs – we had the entire estate to play with. We designed our own meal and added every little detail we wanted to in order to make the day entirely our own. For example, we added a woodland theme to the Wing by introducing logs with woodland flowers, moss, woodland animals and toadstools as table centrepieces.
One of the most amazing moments of the day had to be when we both arrived separately by Helicopter – it was just another brilliant aspect of the day.
Our beautiful flowers were from The Hedgerow in Threshfield, Grassington and our bridesmaids looked gorgeous in midi blush ASOS dresses. We also had four adorable flower girls in ivory tutu dresses.
We married in the Blackburn Wing and walked down the aisle to Roared Roots ‘Send Me on My Way’ – played and sung by our guitarist Mike Taylor. We opted for a simple ceremony without readings. The most memorable bit was Gemma’s dad giving her away – it was quite emotional.
Throughout the day we had our magnificent guitarist Mike who sang Gemma down the aisle. Mike also wrote a song for our first dance, something that was very personal to us and left a particularly poignant memory.
It was really important to us to get informal shots of our wedding so we could capture the guests having fun – but our photographer Richard Marsden also got some great shots of the two of us which we’ll treasure forever – we loved the fact we got to have several different backdrops in each of Bowcliffe’s beautifully themed rooms.
We both arrived by helicopter and for evening guests a vintage bus was provided.
We adore our rings and it means even more that they were specially designed and made by Ian Henderson.
The food! We had an abundance of it and it was nothing short of spectacular. Canapés of mini fish and chips, lobster mango and chilli, brie risotto balls and oxtail croustillant were followed by a three-course menu designed and provided by Bowcliffe’s award-winning executive chef John Topham. We had seafood moneybags followed by a main course of fillet steak with seasonal veg and finished off with a dessert of white chocolate and strawberry cheesecake. Unbelievable!
The evening was rounded off with a magical fireworks display.
We had such a perfect day, guests were blown away by the food and the venue and even the great Yorkshire weather didn’t put a dampener on the celebrations. There’s no doubt we’ll remember it forever.