Real Yorkshire wedding… Fran and James: fun in countryside for adventurers

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Fran and James are not your average couple, and they didn’t have your average wedding.

Held at Danby Castle amidst the North Yorkshire countryside, the wedding was in perfect harmony with this eco-friendly, outdoor-loving couple ~ who, I might mention, began their honeymoon in the Arctic Circle.

Fran and James’s philosophy and character shines through their whole wedding, and I have to admit they captured my heart a little. There’s so much to say about this relaxed, natural affair that it’s hard to know where to start, but I strongly advise you to read this post right to the end ~ and please leave a comment if you like it!

Their day, photographed by Lissa Alexandra, is full of DIY details, and shows how incredible the result can be when you use a little of your imagination and inject a lot of your personalities.

Fran and James met while working at the Science Museum in London. Fran had noticed 6ft 6in James before they were introduced ~ by their future best man Dan ~ at a museum Christmas party. They talked all night.

James proposed on Fran’s birthday. He made her breakfast in bed, then handed her a card in which there was a heartfelt message and the Post Script “we need to go and pick the sweet corn.”

Off they went to their cottage’s vegetable patch. Fran picked an ear of corn, peeled back the leaves and saw a ring of diamonds sparkling back. She recognised it instantly: it was her late great-grandmother’s, a ring she had always admired. James got down on one knee and proposed.

Fran dresses simply so was worried about choosing her wedding dress. At first, she had decided on a bright yellow tea dress ~ until she tried one on in front of an honest shop assistant who told her, “Yellow really isn’t your colour.” So she decided to go for something more traditional, and found her dream Enzoani dress at a sample sale in London.

Fran said: “As Lilly (my maid of honour) describes it ‘If Mother Nature could make a wedding dress, this is what she would make’ – and that was exactly what I wanted. I don’t actually know how I chose such a perfect dress. The pleated silk, and rustic finish of the dress, just made me so relaxed and the many skirts and flowing train made me feel like a ‘proper bride’. I loved it.”

All of Fran and James’s flowers were bought from a supermarket a couple of days before the wedding. Fran’s dad arranged her and the bridesmaids’ bouquets, which were tied with lace.

Fran says: “I knew I wanted simple flowers and a natural looking bouquet. But we just couldn’t afford to buy the bouquets from a florist. So instead my lovely dad made mine, and all the bridemaids’ bouquets, with flowers that we bought from a supermarket. When he presented his creation to me on the morning of the wedding, I was so overwhelmed it made me cry. It was exactly what I was after – and I loved it all the more because he had made it.”

Fran had six bridesmaids and ~ bravely, some would say ~ let her bridesmaids choose their own dress and colour.

“I’m not keen on things matching too much – and I’ve seen so many bridesmaids in dresses they hate, and I feel it’s such a waste. Why not let them wear something they actually like?

“So, I decided that each bridesmaid could choose a bright colour and find a dress they liked in that colour. That way there’d be six bridesmaids all in bright dresses, but all with a dress that showed their personality.

“On our first (and only) shopping trip together, things didn’t quite go according to plan! All of the three bridesmaids that came ended up choosing dresses that were the same colour – coral! So that was that decision made, the bridesmaids would wear coral dresses, but they could choose any dress in that colour they so wished.

“They all accessorised their dresses with flat gold sandals and a cream hair flower that my mum adapted for each of the girls to how they wanted it.

“The first time I saw all of their outfits together was on the morning of the wedding, and they looked fantastic. The fact that I’d let them wear the dress of their choice, showed in their faces. They all looked so relaxed and comfortable in their choices, and this meant a lot to me as it meant I knew that they would be able to enjoy the day knowing that they looked beautiful.”

The couple and their family made the invitations, place names and table flags ~ but Fran is most proud of their amazing ‘order of the day’ books, made by her mum from waste fabric. Fran added paper inserts then bound them with scraps of ribbon. Fran’s mum also made metres of bunting and the lavender heart favours ~ all 130 of them!

Fran says: “One of the things we didn’t want to do with our wedding was produce a lot of waste. So, with that in mind, I wanted favours that our guests could either eat or ones they would actually use.”

The couple opted for Danby Castle’s ‘vintage package’, which includes a range of decorations which help set the right tone in the marquee adjacent to the castle, like bunting, table cloths, jars, blankets and straw bales.

The Courtroom ~ the ceremony room ~ was decorated using “anything and everything” the couple had at home. “We emptied our house of all the vintage-looking pots and jars we own and arranged them in the Courtroom, filling them with flowers, pebbles or candles. The result was beautiful, even more so because the objects were ours. We were also keen for all of our grandparents to be part of our wedding day – even though only my grandmother is still with us. So we dug out photographs of each of them on their wedding days and arranged them in the Courtroom, so none of them missed out on the action.”

Fran and James wanted a relaxed, fun wedding. “It was just that. I was so happy and relaxed throughout the entire day,” says Fran. “The memory I will take away from our wedding day, is just how lucky I am. Not only do I now have a husband I absolutely adore, but I also have such a great family.”

After months of wedding planning, and the excitement of the big day, most couples want a good rest afterwards. Not Fran and keen cyclist James. They were guests at wedding a week after their own ~ so decided to cycle from their wedding to that of their friends. Over five days they pedalled part of northern England’s east coast, from Whitby to Lincoln.

Fran says: “It was fantastic to be able to spend our first days of marriage together, just us two, and the English countryside. You sometimes forget just how beautiful England is.”

For their second honeymoon, James had organised a three-and-a-half week adventure through Finland, starting with a five-day, 80km unguided hike in the Arctic Circle before a more relaxing week in a secluded lakeside cottage with its own private beach, rowing boat and sauna, then island hopping in the Baltic Sea on a tandem.

Idea to steal:
♥ Scour charity shops for retro games for each table ~ this gives you your table ‘theme’ and playing them can be a great ice-breaker.

Need to know:
Venue: Danby Castle
Event planner/styler: The Fine and Funky Events Company
Bride’s dress: ‘Cayla’ by Enzoani {which Fran is looking to sell}
Bride’s veil: The Wedding Collection at Hornsea Freeport
Bride’s jewellery: simple pearl bracelet and pearl drop earrings
Bride’s shoes: Debenhams
Bride’s hair: Cheevers Hair Design, Whitby
Bride’s make-up: did own
Groom’s clothing: Pal Zileri
Cake: “it was more of a pie really” ~ made by Fran’s uncle Glen
Catering: Arches Cookery School
Flowers: bought in Morrisons and arranged by event planners and family
Favours: lavender-filled hearts from waste fabrics, which were tied to the back of guests’ chairs
Stationery: made own invitations from recycled paper; used a black board for the wedding breakfast menu; place names made using stencils and scraps of brown paper, which were tied to napkins using leftover material
Transport: Esk Valley Coaches
Music: the couple’s friend Jemma Bauser played Gabriel’s Oboe as Fran and her dad walked down the aisle
Entertainment: ceilidh by The Stompin’ Hooley Band; disco by Ultimate Wedding DJ


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