Pretty flowers and trailing ivy helped to bring this couple’s secret garden wedding theme to life!
How they met
Charlotte and Alex met at university, where it was love at first sight. “I had moved over from Belfast to Manchester, and it was my first day in England,” Charlotte explains. “I thought Alex was gorgeous from the moment I set eyes on him.”
Romantic Alex whisked Charlotte off on a surprise holiday to Mexico to propose. “I didn’t know where we were going until we got to the airport,” Charlotte remembers. “Alex proposed on our third day. We were having a private meal on the beach when he got down on one knee. It was perfect, and I was so surprised, even though we had been together for six years.”
The bride’s outfit
Bridal model Charlotte tried on hundreds of dresses in her search for the gown of her dreams, before settling on a head-turning Hollywood Dreams style in silk taffeta. “Having worn so many dresses through work, I wanted something really big so that I felt extra special,” Charlotte explains. “I cried when I finally found ‘the one’. I really felt like a bride.”
Charlotte wore her gown with a simple crystal tiara and diamond necklace and earrings – a surprise gift from her husband-to-be on the morning of the wedding. “I also bought myself some underwear personalised with my married name!” laughs Charlotte.
The groom’s outfit
Charlotte helped Alex choose his grey suit with ivory waistcoat, from Swarbricks. “I didn’t have a colour scheme, so I wanted the men in ivory,” Charlotte says. “He looked so smart – I shed a tear when I saw him. He looked like Prince Charming!”
Charlotte’s six bridesmaids looked simply stunning in their ivory chiffon one-shouldered gowns from Mori Lee. “I model for Mori Lee and have always loved their bridesmaid dresses, so I didn’t look anywhere else,” Charlotte explains. “One of my bridesmaids had recently given birth, so I wanted a style that was flattering around the tummy so she would feel confident and comfortable.”
Charlotte and Alex made their vows at Harewood House, an 18th-century manor set in 100 acres of grounds. The ceremony included readings by Charlotte’s friend and Alex’s brother, and friend Vicky Nolan sang during the signing of the register. “I loved walking down the aisle. It felt like a film star moment seeing Alex waiting there for me at the altar,” Charlotte recalls.
With the wedding theme inspired by the film The Secret Garden, Charlotte chose country garden blooms in pretty pastel colours. “I wanted the bouquets to look like they had just been picked,” Charlotte explains. The venue displays were created by Leafy Couture, and included a spectacular chandelier made entirely of flowers.
After the marriage ceremony, the 170 guests moved to Harewood House’s Pavilion, where they dined on prawn and crayfish cocktail, roast beef and cheesecake, followed by port and cheese and a tempting chocolate fountain. Later, Charlotte’s dad’s band performed the first dance song – Aerosmith’s I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing, and a swing band and a troupe of Irish dancers entertained the guests, who also enjoyed being snapped in the photo booth. “My girls and I also performed a surprise dance that we had been secretly practising for months, and I gave a spur of the moment speech,” adds Charlotte.
The garden theme came to life with tables decked with candles, ivy and moss, and place names attached to vintage keys – a detail from The Secret Garden film. The handmade stationery featured an ivy motif, continuing the theme. The guests were transported in a vintage bus, while Charlotte travelled in fairytale style in a horse-drawn carriage, and the bridesmaids were driven in a vintage Rolls Royce.
The four-tier cake, covered with ivy and flowers, was made by a close family friend who also made Charlotte’s christening cake.
The newlyweds spent a week in Dubai, where they recovered from the excitement of their day.