Our special day…
Lesley-Staum Lewis & Ryan Grant, from Congleton (Cheshire), got married 24/2/18
With a helping hand from talented sisters, local wedding suppliers, creative friend-of-the-family photographers, and a vibrant coral colour palette in defiance to the winter weather, Lesley and Ryan pulled off their short-notice February wedding at Tower Hill Barns without a hitch in just under six months!
Ryan and I first met when we were in sixth form together. I was new to the school and put in Ryan’s form, and being 16 and young in love, we were officially a couple only a few weeks later! Fast-forward eight years and I went back to our school on what I thought was a ‘work assignment.’ Little did I know, Ryan had actually orchestrated this plan for me to be there – with my colleagues, my boss and even the school in on it. As I walked back into the room where we met, still unaware of what was about to happen, there was Ryan; waiting with candles, flowers and the ring of my dreams… obviously I said yes!
Soon after the wedding planning began. We didn’t really know what type of venue we wanted, but we’d seen photos online of Tower Hill Barns and really liked them, so we decided to book an appointment. As it was the first venue we’d looked at, we weren’t too sure what to expect, but we completely fell in love from the second we walked in. It was everything we could have wanted and the photos simply didn’t do it justice.
We loved that everything was in one place and we didn’t have to move our guests around, along with the fact that every part of the venue had been designed especially for weddings (yet still felt personal). They had an opening for a February wedding (only 6 months away) and we booked a week later!
The staff at Tower Hill Barns really made everything so easy, despite the fact we were planning our wedding in just under six months. Nothing was too much and we couldn’t have done it without them.
The Big Day
We actually started our wedding the day before, where we legally tied the knot at a registry office, which meant we could run the day at Tower Hill Barns exactly as we wanted on our own time. My side of the family spent the night before the wedding in the house on site, and we enjoyed a wonderful cooked breakfast by the team on the morning of our big day.
Despite the fact we’d been together for nine years at this point, I was still feeling nervous on the big day. But my wonderful mum, friends and little sister (aka, my bridesmaids) put me completely at ease while we got ready and made the final touches to the venue. We held our ceremony in the Old Barn at 2pm and as I walked down the aisle to The Piano Guys’ version of ‘A Thousand Years,’ everything was as perfect as I’d always imagined.
We’d written our ceremony ourselves, so it was full of stories, readings, and even a poem my dad had written especially for us. It was exactly what we wanted, and even though my little cousins dropped the rings at the precise moment the minister asked ‘may I have the rings’, we just couldn’t stop laughing!
The Wedding Breakfast
We were spoilt for choice at the taster evening, but in the end we chose the ham and cheese croquette for starters, braised shin of beef for mains, and the Tower Hill Barns chefs recreated our favourite South African dessert which we call ‘gunge!’ This meant so much to us as it allowed us to bring a part of my heritage into the day.
We had live music from Nathan Thomas throughout the meal, followed by speeches from the father of the groom, the two best men, father of the bride and then finally from Ryan.
Our first dance was to Jason Mraz, ‘I’m yours’, and it’s been our song since we were 16. A local band called Michigan where Nathan was in fact the lead singer quickly followed, and was one of the best choices we made across the day! I ended up begging them to stay longer than the agreed time because our guests could not stop dancing.
Ryan surprised me with a minimoon to Venice the day after the wedding, where we stayed at the Hilton Molino Stucky and we then went to Mauritius in June 2018, staying at the Lux Le Morne.
Any funny stories or mishaps to tell us about the big day
Our day was full of laughter, from the hilarious pictures shown in the best man speeches, to the chaos of trying to get a sparkler picture with 80 guests. But in the end, everything went exactly to plan and the only thing we forgot to do was put out the marshmallows for the fire pit!
Top Tips for Other Couples
We’d been told to take time out during the day to just be with each other, and I can’t recommend this enough – the day really will fly by! We took a little moment just after the ceremony, and later in the evening, to look at what we’d created and reflect on the fact we were now husband and wife!
Your Suppliers & Styling:
When it came to pulling together all of the elements that went into the big day, I knew I wanted to use local suppliers as much as possible. And although we had a winter wedding, we both wanted a blue and pink theme, which we echoed throughout all of our wedding styling – giving it a very coordinated and ‘put together’ feel. From the dresses and suits, to the flowers, the stationary and signs, and the mother of the bride outfit we were all about the blended colour palette!
For my dress, I visited a local store in Congleton called Seventh Heaven. Lesley (the owner) was incredibly helpful, she sat me down and asked me about the type of bride I wanted to be before giving me different styles to try on. Once we’d worked out the style, we looked at different designers and I eventually chose a stunning Sofia Tolli fishtail dress and a matching floor-length veil. When I’d found the one, I knew there was no point looking any further, so I bought my dress the very same day!
The suits were from Slaters in Manchester and we opted for a royal blue suit & waistcoat. We wanted the men to stand out from the guests and I’m so glad we took the risk as everyone complimented them on the day. Plus, the royal blue worked perfectly with our pale pink bridesmaid dresses, which I also got from Seventh Heaven in Congleton. My mum wore a stunning blue mid-length gown from Coast and the mother of the groom wore a blue ASOS number.
For flowers, we kept it local again, using The Flower House by Arighi Bianchi who my friends had recommended to me. They did not disappoint! I showed up with some Pinterest snaps and they managed to create exactly what we imagined, despite the fact several flowers weren’t in bloom due to the season.
Rings were from a local jeweller in Congleton, the cake was made for us by family friends, and the invitations were done by Gorgeous Invites after we met Amy at a wedding fair in Crewe. Amy managed to create our wedding invitations in just two weeks for our short-notice wedding! My little sister (@LittleRobynUK) designed all the ‘on-the-day’ stationery including name cards, signs and seat reservations as a wedding present for us.
I’ve known for years that I wanted to use Paul Atherton Photography, as his son was Ryan’s best man. His natural style was everything I wanted from the day and we were over the moon with the results. He even set up a photo shoot in the hallway to the men’s bathroom, which sounds bizarre but the results were incredible!
For our videographer, I wanted a similar style to our photographer so that they would complement each other. So we took to Hitched.com to find suggestions, and stumbled upon Adam Wing, whose videos were incredible. Adam was so discrete throughout the day that many guests didn’t even realise we had a videographer – but the video captured the essence of the day perfectly and I’m so glad we decided to use him!
A local makeup artist, Helen MacGregor, did my hair and makeup. I took her some Pinterest snaps and she managed to ensure that I looked like a bride, but still like ‘me’, which was really important. Both during my trial and on the day Helen was brilliant, putting me at ease even when I changed my mind on last-minute touches. I would highly recommend her!
- The Dress: 7th Heaven dresses
- The Florist: The Flower House Cheshire
- Photographer: Paul Atherton Photography
- Videographer: Adam Wing Films
- Invites: Gorgeous Invites
- The stationery: @LittleRobynUK
Photographer: Paul Atherton; firstname.lastname@example.org
Videographer: Adam wing; email@example.com