Me & My Wedding: A Beautiful Day In North Yorkshire

From the proposal to the cake, the flowers to the dress, we love hearing what goes into making someone's big day their own. If you're after some inspiration, look no further – we’re shining a spotlight on some of the most stylish weddings out there. For graphic designer Rachael and professional footballer Reece, their intimate day might have been a far cry from their original plan – but they wouldn’t change a thing...
BENJAMIN WHEELER


The Engagement

Reece asked me to marry him on a trip to Mallorca in June 2018. Our first stop in Valldemossa was at a quaint farmhouse-style family run hotel that we found on Mr & Mrs Smith. Reece had booked dinner in the gardens. Afterwards, the sun had set and our conversation led to him getting down on one knee and asking me to marry him. 

The Original Wedding Plan

Our wedding was planned for the 13th of June 2020. We’d always imagined it would happen somewhere in the Mediterranean and following our engagement we loved the idea of making more memories in Mallorca. 

I had always dreamt of getting married in a church, so we made arrangements at Basilica de Sant Francesc in the old town of Palma, followed by a cocktail reception, dinner and dancing at the rural Finca Es Cabas. The cocktail reception was supposed to be held in the gardens of the Finca with stalls of local food, sangria and a Spanish singer. We invited around 100 guests, all flying in from the UK, most of whom opted to join us for the week leading up to the wedding. We were due to kick off the celebrations with a Friday evening pre-wedding celebration at a beach club in Puerto Portals, too. 

The Revised Wedding

As the pandemic unfolded, we realised how difficult travelling would be. We wanted to take control of our plan, and not rely on things getting better just to hold onto something that might not happen. We therefore chose not to postpone, but to cancel the Mallorcan wedding altogether. It was a really difficult decision to walk away from a wedding we had been planning for nearly two years. 

By July, we started searching for new venues in the UK, and came across Middleton Lodge Estate in North Yorkshire. We visited the following week, and it ticked every box. We booked it on the spot for 9th June 2021.

The Non-Negotiables

In hindsight, a lot of the things we really wanted we never had – a church ceremony, getting married on a Saturday, a Mediterranean setting, a 100-strong guest list… However, re-arranging everything during Covid completely shifted our mindset. What were once non-negotiables became easier to compromise on – given the circumstances. The result was a day full of love, and one both we and our families believe was even more special than our original plan. That said, as a designer and a creative, the styling and stationery were always something I’d wanted to put a lot of thought into.

The Planner

After it became clear our guest list would be much shorter, we didn’t feel the need to hire a specific planner. Middleton Lodge has a brilliant events team who help you every step of the way. The weddings and events manager, Anna, was amazing. I had sourced all our suppliers myself, but Anna ensured everything ran smoothly – we couldn’t have done it without her. 

The Ceremony

The initial plan was to have the ceremony in a church local to Middleton Lodge. However, we soon found out we had to attend the church properly for us to be able to get married there. Given we live two hours away, it just wasn’t realistic. 

When it was announced that wedding capacity would only be 30 people, we decided to make things as easy as possible and get married at Middleton Lodge. Our ceremony was in the Main House and thankfully the weather was on our side, so we were able to open the doors onto the garden, which made for a more romantic backdrop.

The Reception

After the ceremony, guests headed down to the lawn where we enjoyed canapés and champagne with some of our favourite songs played by an acoustic duo called The Rhodes Brothers, who we booked through Jonny Ross Music. Our saxophonist friend Matt Hines led the way to the Fig House for our reception. It was an idea I had a week before the wedding, and it was such a highlight. Our guests took their seats, while we went into the gardens to take photos. 

The Food & Drink

Reece and I are both foodies, so it was great to hear Middleton Lodge grows most of its own produce and focuses on seasonal dishes. With a smaller wedding, we took greater interest in the menu and decided to offer choices, as we wanted everyone to truly enjoy what they were eating. After that, our family and friends – after such a long wait – were all very much ready to party. 

The Cake

Our cake was created by Hannah Matilda. It was two tiers with an untraditional flavour for each – the top being lemon and blueberry, the bottom sticky-toffee ginger. The design was in keeping with our minimal décor and styled and finished with an array of roses.

The Dress

I started looking for my dress after we got engaged in 2018. I wanted something timeless but with detail and a touch of the untraditional. I came across New-York based designer Danielle Frankel on NET-A-PORTER and instantly fell in love with the Marion gown. I parked it for a while, thinking the logistics wouldn’t be possible given it was exclusively stocked at her New York studio, which was by appointment only. 

The following year, Reece and I went to New York for a holiday. I still hadn’t seen any dresses that compared, so I booked an appointment and asked Reece to grab a coffee while I went to the studio. I knew it was ‘the one’ as soon as I tried it on – I felt comfortable, cool and like myself. The gown aside, I loved what the label stood for, and the waves the brand was making within the industry. It arrived in December 2019, and I had my fittings done here with a bridal seamstress. 

To have another party dress for the evening was always a no-brainer. I visited bespoke bridalwear designer Emma Beaumont in late 2019 to discuss the initial ideas I had for an evening dress. Emma and her team are incredible; they quite literally make your ideas a reality. I knew I wanted something midi, sleek and sexy, and with my background in fashion, the whole process was a joy. Working in collaboration with Emma, we settled on the design quite early on and focused on the fit thereafter. 

The Groom

Reece wore a dark navy double-breasted suit by Reiss, with a black bow tie and shoes by Russell & Bromley. There were a lot of changes within our wedding plans, but we both wore what we had originally chosen. It was a decision which turned out to suit our wedding far better than it would have in the Mediterranean heat – it was clearly meant to be.

The Wedding Party

My three bridesmaids and my maid-of-honour sister all wore slip dresses by Pretty Lavish. Each wore slightly different shades of gold and champagne. The morning of the wedding day was the first time we saw all the dresses hung up together. They looked fabulous. 

The Accessories

My veil was also by Danielle Frankel – it was an incredibly beautiful and delicate pleated tulle veil with a comb that sat just above my bun. My nana and auntie kindly gave me my special Jimmy Choo wedding shoes as a present — soft white satin with a diamond anklet-style strap. My earrings were by Theodora Warre, and I had a small white pouch bag by Studio Amelia to keep my make-up and phone in.

The Hair & Make-Up

My sister Emma Devine is a make-up artist who works in the fashion and bridal industries. We did a simple, natural look with a focus on skin for a dewy, healthy glow. I had my brows laminated and tinted by Emily Illingworth the week before the wedding and Quelle Bester worked my hair into a sleek chignon. Quelle also took care of all the hair for the bridal party. 

The Photographer

I came across Benjamin Wheeler on Instagram a few years ago and instantly loved his work. His artistic, editorial, yet natural style of photography was exactly how we wanted our day to be captured. He was a joy to work with and made wonderful company on the day, feeling more like a guest than a ‘supplier’. We’ll treasure his photographs forever. 

The Videographer

Like the photography, we wanted the videography to be slightly untraditional, too. I came across the Super 8mm films by Louise at Taylor & Porter and it amazed me how this style of film captured the moments, emotion and romance of a wedding. Reece and I welled up when we looked at Louise’s work on her website – we knew that was how we wanted to look back on our day. 

The Flowers & Décor

Our florist Sarah from Simply By Arrangement created the most incredible floral arrangements for us. From the huge bouquets that sat in antique urns to frame the aisle, to the tiny details dotted along our table, Sarah’s attention to detail was exquisite. I’m not hugely into colour, so the brief was warm neutrals. Sarah also assisted with the décor, helping me find the perfect linen cloth for the table, and very kindly gifting us tapered candles by Ester & Erik.

The Day Before

Reece and I hosted a relaxed dinner the evening before the wedding. Gin cocktails on arrival, then chicken burgers and fish finger rolls under a stretch tent on Middleton Lodge’s Gin Terrace. We wanted something informal to ease everyone into the celebrations.

Advice For Other Couples

Don’t stress over the small stuff, even if they seem really big at the time — be honest to yourself as to whether it will really matter on the day. Be open minded, kind to each other, and remember why you’re doing it. 

Photography by Benjamin Wheeler

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