Charlotte and James’ Graceful and Romantic Wedding at Bowcliffe Hall
Flicking through Charlotte and James’ wedding photographs, we found it incredibly difficult to curate which would make the final edit. Simply put, every single image presented a snapshot of what was a spectacular day. From the ceremony held under an arch draped in an abundance of wild, autumnal foliage and trailing vines in the Bowcliffe gardens, to the personal, spoken vows and the dress… oh, the dress!
Charlotte and James made sure they did every single thing their own way, and the result was nothing short of magical…
James & Charlotte Lund
24th September 2016
How did you meet?
We went to the same school and were good friends for many years before we got together.
Go on, tell us your engagement story…
We booked to travel through Italy starting in Venice, going through to Florence and ending in Rome. It was an incredible trip, driving through the countryside, stopping at vineyards along the way. On one of the stops in Tuscany, James had planned for us to stay in the most beautiful suite with its own garden. After telling them what he was planning, they prepared us a private meal outside in the romantic Grotto, full of candlelight and roses.
How did you choose your wedding location?
We originally planned to go back to Italy to get married, but after realising it would mean that we couldn’t have all of our family there, we decided that it was more important to have everyone we loved with us to celebrate. We quite quickly agreed that if we were getting married in this country then we wanted to get married close to home, so in our case, Yorkshire. We set out trying to find somewhere suitable and even though we both drive past Bowcliffe Hall everyday we actually found out about it as a wedding venue on Pinterest! We booked a viewing and as soon as we got to Bowcliffe we knew it was where we wanted to get married – so much so that we didn’t look anywhere else. The fact that Bowcliffe is in the next village to where we live, felt really meaningful to us and the close proximity meant that we could be more involved in sorting the décor for the day, which was a big priority for us. Michael and the events team at Bowcliffe were so helpful and really went out of their way to help us to achieve everything we wanted for our wedding. I don’t think we ever heard ‘no’ to even one of our requests!
What was your theme and vision for the day?
Formal but with a raw, natural elegance – hopefully that comes across in the décor and the photographs.
Choosing a wedding photographer is a tough task, who did your beautiful pictures and why did you choose them?
Our photographer was James from Melia Melia Photography. We both hate having our photo taken, but James was so relaxed and made us feel at total ease all day. The photos perfectly captured our joy during the day and his attention to detail and movement is stunning.
Tell us about your dress…
I always knew that I wanted to wear Jenny Packham, so when I found out that The Bridal Collection in Harrogate were holding a trunk show I immediately booked an appointment. The team at The Bridal Collection were great, and we quickly discussed how we could incorporate elements of a few of the dresses to make the perfect dress for me. They were so great to work with and immediately understood what I was looking to achieve.
And the shoes?
After looking at various designers, I couldn’t find anything that I loved and that didn’t feel overly ‘done’. It was only after shopping in Topshop (of all places!) that I found a pair that was exactly what I had in mind for the day. I then wore my beloved Valentino sandals for dancing later.
What did the groom wear?
James chose to wear a classic Dolce and Gabbana tuxedo, paired with a pair of Alexander McQueen patent leather shoes.
What did you choose for the bridesmaids?
As we wanted everyone to feel comfortable and to be able to personalise their look for the day, we ended up opting for a multi-way dress in grey from ASOS. Each of them was able to wear it slightly different which was great – they looked beautiful.
What were your wedding rings like?
I didn’t want anything too fussy that would detract from my amazing antique engagement ring, so I opted for a very thin, custom shaped platinum band. James also opted for a plain platinum band.
Did you have any special jewellery or accessories on the day?
I had a beautiful antique silver myrtle tiara and pin set, sent from Germany. The set was originally for a silver wedding anniversary in October 1930. It felt really special to incorporate something so old and precious into our day. The tiara was so delicate and I loved how there were two matching silver pins; one for James and one for my dad. I also wore a chapel length drop veil and some diamond and pearl earrings that James gave me for my 21st birthday.
What did the groomsmen wear?
The groomsmen wore their own tuxedos, as we wanted them to feel comfortable and be able to reflect their own personal style.
Who did your hair and makeup?
A good friend, Rachel from Rachel Marie, did our hair and makeup. She was absolutely great at understanding what I wanted and managed to get all of us done with time to spare!
Did you have favours on the day? If so, what did you go for?
We didn’t actually include favours as I’m not really a fan of them, however, I did write a little thank you note to each of our guests to let them know how grateful we were to have them there to share in the day. We also had a cigar bar in the Drivers Club after dinner that was a big hit!
Your flowers look beautiful on the photos, how did you choose which blooms to include?
I had looked for a long time to find someone who could bring my vision of elegant, organic, natural arrangements to life, and I had nearly given up when I eventually found Firenza Floral Design. Fiona’s work is so instinctive and raw and focuses on seasonal, English grown flowers, which were exactly what I wanted. The brief was a sumptuous but wild, foraged look with lots of autumnal foliage, trailing vines and fruits. It was perfect.
How was the run-up to the big day? Any nerves?
We actually stayed at home together the night before the wedding, so on the morning we had breakfast together. After having some special time together feeling very excited about the day ahead of us, we both headed to Bowcliffe Hall to get ready. James and the groomsmen got ready in the stunning Blackburn Wing, whilst we (the girls) got ready in the Morning Room. The rooms were so beautiful and bathed in light – It was so exciting seeing everything take shape whilst we were getting ready.
Tell us about the ceremony and reception décor…
We wanted to keep the decor simple to emphasise the already beautiful gardens and grounds. The ceremony was kept simple, with an arch covered in an abundance of flowers, autumnal foliage and berries. Our guests sat on ghost chairs and each had a bag of flower petals that I had dried from our garden. For the drinks reception in the Drivers’ Club, I collected a lot of vintage silver trophies and my mum and I filled them with Dahlias, roses and hydrangeas from her garden. For the reception, we had three long banquet tables, one for family, one for friends and one for the wedding party. Each of the tables was dressed with classic white linen, masses of tapered dinner candles and wild, trailing flower arrangements.
Who was your celebrant and what was your ceremony like?
Janice Thornton. It was great having a ceremony that was written for just for us. She really took the time to get to know us so it could be as personal as possible. It was really important to us to have a ceremony that truly reflected how we felt about marriage, so it was essential that we wrote our own vows. It was so surreal and moving to say the words we had written each other in front of everyone we loved surrounded by the beauty of nature. We had three readings, all performed by our close friends. They included: Laura Hendricks Love is Friendship, Seamus Heaney Scaffolding and Robert Fulghum Union.
What about the music?
I walked with my dad down the ‘aisle’ to Ben Folds ‘The Luckiest’ and after we had Hall & Oates ‘You Make My Dreams’, both held a lot of meaning for us and were sung by the very talented Fran Minney. For our first dance the band, The Cover Cats, sang Stevie Wonder ‘I Was Made To Love Her’ and ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’. We had an acoustic guitarist and singer for our ceremony and drinks reception and then a nine-piece soul band for the evening reception to really get the party going.
How did you get to the venue?
We both drove up in our defender!
We chose a four-tiered Chocolate cake from M&S, as we both love chocolate so much and it was so delicious. As James’ dad has a business that imports Lobster from Maine, we really wanted to incorporate this into our wedding breakfast. John Topham, the Chef at Bowcliffe Hall came up with so many delicious starters that we could serve for our tasting, but we ended up opting for the Lobster Thermidor which was divine. This was followed by the most tender lamb and finished with a decadent chocolate delice.
Any specific memorable moments?
Being announced as the new Mr & Mrs into the ballroom and seeing everyone there we loved – it was the best feeling!