A fairytale castle wedding in Cheshire

25 Oct 2019

With an intimate ceremony and reception of 44 guests, Lucy Worthington and James Ray invited a further 66 to the evening party which included a silent disco

How did you meet?

Internet dating

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Tell us about the proposal.

James proposed in Menagerie in Manchester. He had arranged with the staff to play a special song to us (Amazed by Lonestar) and when they played it he proposed in front of the restaurant.

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What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?

We didn’t have a theme as such, however I went for a vintage, 1950's look with a tea-length dress and a very similar style for the bridesmaids. Red was the main colour as this was the colour of the my shoes and bridesmaids' Converse, which was also incorporated into the flowers and make-up.

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What venue did you choose and why did you choose it? 

We chose Peckforton Castle in Tarporley as it is such a beautiful building in a beautiful location. We liked that we could use different rooms for different aspects of the wedding which meant we could sample as much of this magnificent building as we could.

For example, the wedding ceremony was in the Great Hall and then the wedding breakfast in the Hexagonal Room. Also, as it is a hotel it had enough rooms to accommodate our guests, some of which had travelled a long way. We were able to hire the venue exclusively so we could have a private and intimate wedding.

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How did you know when you’d found ‘the’ dress? 

I went to around six shops and tried on around 20 dresses before I found the one at Sarah’s Boutique in Northwich. As soon as I tried the LouLou tea-length dress on I fell in love with the length and vintage look.

I was looking for a dress which was a bit different and it just instantly felt right, so I bought it there and then and cancelled future appointments I’d booked with other bridal shops.

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Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear? 

Our two daughters were our bridesmaids: Ellie, who is six-years-old and is my daughter, and Jessica, aged four, who is James’ daughter. They wore very similar dresses to mine, tea-length and ivory and I bought these from Monsoon. To accompany their dresses they wore red Converse trainers to complement my red Valentino shoes and then in the evening, I also changed into Converse so we all matched.

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What did the mother of the bride wear?

My mum wore a dress and matching hat from Condici which she bought from She Devil in Newcastle-Under-Lyme.

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Where did you find your suits?

Platt’s Menswear and Formal Hire

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Tell us about your floral arrangements.

Ian Lloyd Events supplied all our flowers and decorated the Great Hall for the ceremony and Hexagonal Room for the wedding breakfast.

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Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.

  • We wanted our wedding to break away from tradition. James didn’t have a best man and I only had our two young daughters as bridesmaids. We had an adults-only wedding with only our daughters and niece and nephew present. Most of our guests are parents and they loved being able to come and let their hair down without running after their children. As we had no best man, James and I decided to do speeches. I went first followed by James. 
  • To entertain the guests during the photographs, we hired a magician who was amazing.
  • Guests were provided with Mr and Mrs drinks: sloe gin and tonic for the men and Kir Royale for the women. We had a bespoke menu designed by ourselves and the head chef at Peckforton.
  • Instead of name place cards we had guest names printed on Swizzells Love Heart Sweets and gave guests scratch cards as wedding favours.

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  • We did a DIY sweetie table as we found it was cheaper to do this ourselves than pay for a sweet cart. We had 12 different sweets available.
  • In the evening as well as the DJ and band, we had two casino tables of Roulette and Blackjack. These were a hit with the guests with the two winners receiving a bottle of bubbles.
  • In the female toilets we provided a basket full of flip-flops and a toiletries basket with items such as hairspray, grips, deodorant etc so guests could freshen up.
  • At midnight when the DJ had finished, we had a surprise for the guests. In the wine cellar we put on a silent disco which was a first for Peckforton. All the guests and staff were given a pair of headphones and we spent the next three hours flicking between music channels. We had cheese, R'n'B and just general pop. This was one of our favourite things about the wedding. Everybody loved the disco, some of the guests didn’t want to go to bed at 3am when it ended! It was such a highlight of the wedding for us.
  • We provided a midnight snack of pizza and sandwiches to keep everyone going. While everyone was dancing away, we had hangover bags placed in all the guest bedrooms. These consisted of water, paracetamol, mints, chewing gum, chocolate and sweets. 

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How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

I felt really nervous before entering the Great Hall. I had to have a moment before I could walk down the aisle to compose myself. I saw James welling up and it started me off too and it didn’t help my dad was in tears next to me. It was very emotional, but when I arrived at James’ side my nerves disappeared and I couldn’t stop smiling.

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How did you make the ceremony personal to you?

Our daughter, Ellie, read a poem and as James had no best man his daughter, Jessica, was the ring bearer. 

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What was your most memorable moment?

During the ceremony our wedding rings wouldn’t fit because it was a hot day and both our hands had swollen, so we laughed our way through it and had to physically force them on each other. This had us and our guests laughing and gave the ceremony a more relaxed atmosphere and set the tone for the rest of the day.

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What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

I think the most challenging part is budget and not getting too carried away. Every time we went to a wedding fair or went to Peckforton I got new ideas or wanted something else and these ‘extras’ kept adding up. We re-contacted Hipswing (who provided the DJ, lighting, casino and dancefloor) four times after our initial booking to keep adding to our order. It is very easy for the budget to spiral out of control without really realising it.

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What was the most important investment for you?

The most important investment for us was having ‘Keys to the Castle’ which meant the castle was exclusively ours and closed to the public. As Peckforton is such a popular hotel with outstanding restaurants we knew it would be busy with non wedding guests and we wanted a private and intimate wedding, so decided to invest in this. Although a lot of money, it was completely worth it.

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What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?

Stand By Me by Ben E King. This was sung by the band The Rush. We had seen them perform this previously in our favourite bar and they do their own unique version which we loved. Also, it is a relatively short song which appealed as we didn’t want to be on the dancefloor on our own for too long.

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Tell us about your wedding cake. 

This was designed by Jo Couture Cakes and was a three-tier semi-naked cake with a gold drip. The layers consisted of a six-inch layer homemade lemon curd and lemon buttercream, an eight-inch layer of vanilla with raspberry Eton mess buttercream and a 10-inch Bakewell with almond buttercream and berry conserve. Fresh flowers on the cake were supplied by Ian Lloyd.

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If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?

We would have got the band to play later and after the casino tables had left so more people would have been on the dancefloor. Also, we would have paid additional money for our photographer to stay and photograph the silent disco as we only have guest photos of this and this was one of the highlights of the day.

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Where did you go on honeymoon? 

We decided to go to South Africa for our honeymoon, however we have delayed this until January when it is summer over there. On the Monday after the wedding we went to Venice for four days as this was a destination neither of us had been.

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Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages? 

Don’t rush into making decisions. Make sure you do lots of research on suppliers. There can be such a variation in costs for the same service and preferred suppliers may not necessarily be the best option for you.

Once you have chosen a venue, go and visit wedding fairs and wedding evenings held there as it is really useful to get ideas and see it dressed for a wedding. Also, it's your big day, so book where you want, choose who you want to invite, pick the suppliers that fit your needs… don’t let family and friends pressure you into something that suits them.

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Steal their style: 

Venue: Peckforton Castle
Photography: Chris Chambers Photography
Dress: Sarah's Boutique Northwich
Hair and make-up: Bridal Hair and Makeup of Cheshire
Groomswear: Platts Menswear
Flowers: Ian Lloyd Events
Lighting, DJ, casino, dancefloor: Hipswing
Cake: Jo Couture Cakes
Videography: Marry Me Films
Magician: Nick Rushton
Band: The Rush
String quartet: Balfour String Quartet
Silent disco: The Silent Disco Company
Stationery: Bollington Print Shop
Engagement and wedding rings: Fergus James

For more Cheshire wedding inspiration, browse the latest edition of Cheshire Bride magazine

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