A Stylish Pastel Yorkshire Wedding: Jessica & Fiona Abbey

14 Jul 2015

On 24th May 2015 Jessica Abbott, 25, married Fiona Sweeney, 25 in a day that wouldn’t look out of place illustrating a fairytale: pastel colours and a birdcage motif ran throughout the (largely handmade) decorations.

Photography by Taylor Hughes Photography

The couple had a registry office official marriage the day before. But as it was important for them to have a Christian ceremony (and due to current laws, they could not get married in most churches), they arranged their own ceremony for the day after as their ‘proper’ wedding, with the reception at The Old Rectory in Handsworth, Sheffield.

With the help of a talented group of friends they brought the day together – and here, they tell us their story.

How did you meet?
We met in our first year at the University of Sheffield in 2008 where we were both living in the same Halls. I think the very first time we met was when a group of us walked to the nearby church for the Sunday service.

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Tell us about the proposal (in March 2014) – is there a story there? Who proposed?
We had already bought our engagement rings on Valentine’s Day but I (Jessica) kept them, as it had always been delegated that I would be the one to propose (otherwise Fi probably would have proposed years ago!). We were living in Leeds at the time and I took Fi on trip to Sheffield, saying we were visiting some friends for lunch. However, when we arrived in Sheffield I took her to all of the memorable places we had shared there. With each place I gave her an envelope with some magnetic letters. Finally we ended up on Bole Hill (one of our favourite spots), where I got down on one knee with the final letters that spelt out ‘will you marry me?’ on little magnetic chalk board (picture), and she said yes! We then celebrated with a bottle of bubbly and a picnic!

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Did you choose a colour scheme for the day?
Our colour scheme was always going to be pink and blue, since those are our two favourite colours. The theme for the day evolved from a drawing that an artist friend did for us, which we used for all of our wedding stationery (pictured). In the end the day came together with a lot of flowers in pastel pinks, blues, purples and whites. We had lots of birdcage decorations and some rainbows in there, because, hey! It was a gay wedding!

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Two dresses! Too exciting. Tell us how each of you found ‘the one’?
Jessica: I looked around a couple bridal shops to work out what kind of style and material I wanted. I then found two dresses by the same designer, Pronovius, which I absolutely loved. In the end it was the lace on my dress that was just so beautiful that I knew that was the right one for me. I won’t lie, I did contemplate a suit at one point, but I’m so glad I stuck with a dress - I wore a suit to the registry wedding instead!
Fi: I went to a wedding dress shop with my mum and my best friend and found my perfect dress. My best friend (and maid of honour!), who does fashion design, then made a really similar version from scratch with a few added personalised touches - including a small cut-out from my childhood blankie sewn into the inside as my ‘something old’.

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Your bouquets were beautiful – tell us about them.
For the flowers I asked a friend that I knew from my school days (who is from Sweden) to do the flowers. The reason I was so keen to have her do them is that she did the flowers for both of my (Jessica’s) elder brother’s weddings, and I kind of wanted to carry on the tradition. Anna is so talented and she very generously offered her services. We bought the flowers near the time from a variety of places including a flower farm, a flower wholesale market, local florists and my parents’ garden. They all came together beautifully and after briefing Anna on a general theme, we let her work her magic and she produced the most beautiful bouquets, flowers arrangements and corsages which really set the theme for the day.

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How did you work the ceremony?
Jessica: I walked down first. I was a little stressed at being horribly late (my taxi never turned up!) but as I started to walk down the aisle I felt both calm and excited to see my bride. When I did see her I felt a mixture or relief and happiness and I completely welled up seeing her walk down so beautiful!
Fi: It was amazing to see all my friends and family there smiling as I walked down the aisle. I saw Jess with tears in her eyes standing at the front and I couldn’t stop grinning at her! It all felt quite surreal but just overwhelming to see all the support we had.

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Did you take the same personal and local approach to the decorations?
We commissioned a colleague to hand make some of the decorations for the day, including printed candles (with the same picture as on our wedding stationery), the name places, the table names and the favours (mini printed candles and jellybeans in the colour theme) which made a real personal touch. I made 40 metres of bunting to put up at the venue. We made our own photo booth and bought all the props and back drop (so much cheaper than hiring). We also hand made some other decorations such a decoupaging our initials, and bought streamers for the windows. We were able to get some lovely bird cage decorations as well which meant every room in the venue had personal touches everywhere bringing together the theme for the day. The ushers and bridesmaids did a great job of setting up and the place looked great when we got there. One of our bridesmaids surprised us by laying out a sweet table on the day for the guests which was a lovely touch!

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Did we spy a bouncy castle?
One of the things we debated on for a long time was whether or not to get a bouncy castle. I only really wanted to get one if I could have one without the gaudy colours and more suited for a wedding. Finding one up North was a challenge, but I’m really glad we booked it because the guests enjoyed it and we got some amazing photos!

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What was the most memorable moment for each of you?
Jess: I think my most memorable moment was seeing Fi for the first time walking down the aisle!
Fi: I’ve got to say, the best woman’s speech was particularly memorable. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in all my life, but it was also incredibly touching.

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What was your biggest expenditure?
We didn’t spend a very large amount of money on one thing. I feel we split everything fairly evenly. But I think a lot of time went into the decoration and personal touches to make the day what it was. That being said, the wedding was more important than the honeymoon as we had no money left for that!

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The wedding cake tied in with your theme perfectly – where did you commission it?
My (Jessica) very talented sister-in-law made our wedding cake. We requested a bird cage cake and what she made was incredible and perfect for the day.

If you could re-live the day, is there anything you would do differently?
Jessica: I would maybe have tried harder to make sure I saw everyone on the day. I feel that there were certain people I didn’t see properly.
Fi: I probably would have drunk a little less!

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What was your first song choice?
We chose the acoustic version of Jessie Ware’s ‘Wildest moments’. It’s a beautiful song and the words really speak true of our relationship.

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Any tips for other couples?
Pull in favours where you can, make things personal, and don’t stress about planning everything months/years in advance (maybe save the venue and catering). You can still do things pretty last minute and pull it off. It was only in the last couple of months that we really got organised!

Finally, where did you honeymoon?
We had a short spa-break near Bristol, but we are now saving up for our ‘proper’ honeymoon which we will have later on in the year. We would like to take a trip to America, because neither of us has ever been.

Steal their Style:

Photographer: Taylor Hughes Photography
Singer: Micki Consiglio
Venue: The Old Rectory Handsworth
Bouncy Castle: www.sparklenshineweddings.co.uk/Bouncy-Castles.html
Catering: www.happyhogscatering.co.uk/wedding-caterers/

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