A timeless and personal wedding at The South Causey Inn, Durham
14 Mar 2019
Jessica Robinson and Tom Kirton spent the weekend celebrating their wedding in style with friends and family
How did you meet?
We’re a Tinder success story – although for the first few months I told my family that we had met in a bar because I didn’t know anyone else in a Tinder relationship. We spent a few days messaging online then agreed to go on our first date. Tom picked me up and we had tapas in Tynemouth, a gorgeous seaside town with trendy bars. I don’t think either of us were expecting anything serious from our first date but it was bizarre… we just clicked. When I got home I called one of my best friends and said that Tom was ‘the one’ – she couldn’t stop laughing. I had never felt like that before and neither had Tom. We’ve been pretty much inseparable ever since.
Tell us about the proposal.
Unbeknown to me Tom bought my beautiful ring after only six months of dating. I can’t believe he managed to keep it a secret because we were in the process of buying a house. I later found out that he had to secretly send his bank statements to the mortgage adviser without me seeing them.
Our engagement was so dreamlike I often wonder if it was even real. We were away on holiday in Iceland where we spent a few perfect days in awe of the northern lights and snowy terrain. The proposal was completely unexpected. We were floating in the Blue Lagoon under a perfect sky of stars. Tom had been swimming around with the ring box in his truck shorts. We were chatting normally and be began to say thoughtful compliments, then out of nowhere he said: “I know I cant bend down on one knee” and presented my super sparkly diamond,.. Well, I just started screaming. It was really romantic.
What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?
We didn’t have a theme per se but it was really important to make sure that every detail of the day was personalised or had a sentimental meaning. The main colours were sage green, ice blue, peachy pink and sunshine yellow. We chose ice blue for the bridesmaid dresses and best men’s ties. I love vintage styles but wanted the pictures to be timeless. It was very important to make sure everyone felt comfortable in their outfits.
What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?
We had a long list of things we wanted our venue to have and the old barn at South Causey Inn has them all. Firstly it’s stunning and big enough to fit in all our friends and family who love to dance. The food is amazing – traditional pub meals – and the whole venue is dog-friendly which meant everyone could bring their dogs for the weekend. The wedding venue is private which made it feel exclusive and even more magical.
The barn itself is so beautiful; it’s the perfect mix of romantic and rustic. We were very lucky to hire a large function room within the South Causey Inn the night before which allowed our closest friends and family, around 40 people, to have a meal together before the men and women separated to their hot tub rooms to have drinks. The same group and more hired rooms for the night of the wedding which meant we could all stay up after the wedding for drinks and enjoy a hungover breakfast together the next morning. The staff at the South Causey Inn are extremely professional and I couldn’t fault them at all. They ensured everything ran exactly as it should.
When did you know when you’d found ‘the’ dress?
I went to around eight bridal shops and tried on dozens of dresses in the company of my mam and friends. I think they thought I would go for a princess style but I kept leaning towards something more fitted as I was losing weight for the big day. I knew I wanted something embellished but not flashy – almost vintage but still ‘me’. I had mood boards on Pinterest but in truth my budget was a lot smaller than the dresses I was pinning. I was in love with the Eliza Jane Howell dresses but knew it would mean lots of extra nightshifts.
I was lucky enough to visit the amazing Marrime in Jesmond where every dress is a dream. I tried on a few but left my favourite until last… the beautiful Jayne by Eliza Jane Howell. As soon as I put it on I felt like a bride and began planning how I’d save the extra pennies. Luckily the dress was about to go into the sample sale for £800 and the staff agreed to let me buy it there and then. I saved £1900 from the retail price which meant I could spend extra on my beautiful bridesmaids. Honey and the team at Marrime are absolutely amazing. I’ve never received such perfect customer care. They even sent me a Christmas card - now that's classy...
What did the bridesmaids wear?
I had four bridesmaids: three of my closest friends Abbie, Courtney and Sarah as well my now sister-in-law Emma who I saw as my own family before the wedding. All four dresses were ice blue and embellished. Two were from Monsoon and two were from ASOS. Each bridesmaid has a different style and body shape so we planned for each one to have a different dress. Abbie, maid of honour, is very confident and bold so her embellished dress’s low neckline and long train reflected that. The girls all wore their choice of silver shoes and picked their individual hair styles but had flowers in their hair to make co-ordinate. I also gifted their silver knot earrings and Katie Loxton bags in their wedding boxes the night before. I may be biased but I think they all looked stunning. Their dresses all sparkled in the sun and on the dancefloor.
What did the mother of the bride wear?
My beautiful mother wore a vibrant outfit from the Condici 2018 collection which she bought from Marianne’s in Cleadon.
Where did you find your suits?
We bought the groom and six best men Mark Darcy three-piece suits from Most Suitable in Newcastle; the quality of the thicker fabric far surpasses anything else I’ve seen before or since. We then bought my granddad’s three-piece suit from Marks & Spencer as he wanted a lighter fabric compared to the others.
Tell us about your floral arrangements.
Our florist, Thoughts of You, from North Shields in North Tyneside was absolutely amazing. I met with Amy numerous times before the wedding to ensure every detail was planned to perfection. She hand-delivered all of the flowers which stayed fresh for weeks after, despite me dropping the bouquet a lot on the day... We had a mix of the classic and romantic styles with a touch of wild foliage. We had a bridal bouquet, four bridesmaids' bouquets and two corsages for the mothers.
We had buttonholes for all the men of the main wedding party like Tom, his six best men, Tom’s step-father, my brother, my nephews, my best friend and Tom’s grandad. We had flowers on each of the pews ends and large sprays on the tables within the ceremony room. We repurposed these and added them to the top table spray. We had flowers, lanterns and candles on every table we could. The South Causey also has artificial blossom trees throughout the reception room which really gave it the Wow factor. In truth the room made me cry when I first walked in… It was better than I ever dreamed.
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.
I spent months planning each detail of the wedding as I wanted everything to have meaning to us and our loved ones. It was especially important to honour the special people in our lives who passed away but would have loved to be there. Only months before our big day, Tom’s beautiful Gran Freda passed away so we had a memorial table for her and my beloved dad where our guests each lit a candle in their memory. The tables were filled with photos and trinkets. We also printed and displayed the poems we read at each of their funerals.
I was very close to my dad Dave and tried my hardest to weave his presence throughout the day despite him losing his long battle with cancer back in 2016. I had a piece of my dad’s shirt sewed into my dress. Tom wore his Omega watch and my bridesmaids kindly surprised me with a necklace containing his ashes which I used as my something blue. My mam drove me to the ceremony in his prized red MGA called Noddy. My paternal grandfather walked me down the aisle and Tom drove us from the venue in his car. We raised a glass to him and Freda in every speech. After the ceremony I took a moment to light a candle on my own and reflect on how proud and happy I think they would have been.
Other personal touches included all our wedding stationary, created by our talented friend Ryan Garricks. Every song was selected due to its personal meaning to us, even when our guests had never heard of them. All six of the lovely best men had an introductory role or gave a speech. One of my best friends also sang Proud Mary, our favourite girls’ anthem, which sent the dancefloor wild.
The wedding video really highlights the personal touches. We never asked Wayne to do this but he must have noticed how important it was for us to add sentimental value to every aspect of our big day
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
I had rehearsed the ceremony in my head hundreds of times but when I stood waiting to walk down the aisle it still didn’t feel real. My bridesmaids were trying to hold back the tears and my nephews were fidgeting away… It was overwhelming. However once Bon Iver’s 8 Circle began to play I just felt exhilarated and couldn’t wait to see Tom’s face. I felt like I was floating down the aisle. I felt so loved as I met eyes with each of our closest friends and family – their smiles helped me keep back the tears. Seeing Tom’s smile was probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced. I was 100% ready to marry my handsome best friend. I also couldn’t believe how sensible my little nephews were as they walked down ahead of me.
How did you make the ceremony personal to you?
We had Jack Garratt's Surprise Yourself playing as our guests came into the ceremony room – it’s one of my favourite songs and always reminds me of a special night when we saw him live. We had two of our closest friend light candles which represented our lives before we met. Then Tom and I lit a central candle which represented our lives as one in our marriage. My oldest friend Joseph read She’s Not Perfect by Bob Marley with such a cheeky grin. There’s a photo of him winking at Tom which warms my heart so much, he was amazing.
Tom’s granddad Colin read Union by Robert Fulghum which Tom read at his sister’s wedding. Colin’s wise words had everyone in tears. We chose our own vows but kept them short and sweet. We had Pieces by Bonobo and The XX, You’ve Got The Love playing while we signed the register and smiled for photos. Then we danced out of the ceremony room to Thinking of U by J Tropic – it took a few of the older guests by surprise but it was our favourite summer party song so we had to have it.
What was your most memorable moment?
I don’t think I could pick one but my highlights include my mam driving me to the venue in my dad’s car because he would have been so proud of her. I’ll never forget Tom’s face when he saw me coming down the aisle or his silly dance moves at the end of the night. The speeches were fantastic and I felt so proud of my brother, Tom and best man Andrew. We all loved dancing to my friend singing Proud Mary with the band, The Smooth Sailors, sailors as everybody was up spinning around. It was great.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
I guess the most challenging aspect was learning to say no to other people and having the confidence to go ahead with what we wanted. As a bride my biggest recommendation to all other brides and grooms would be to trust your own instincts and not waste time on trying to keep everyone happy.
What was the most important investment for you?
I think our budget was pretty evenly spread between the venue, outfits, food and drink. However, we really invested in our wedding photographer and videographer because we knew we would want to look back on our memories for the rest of our lives. Dan McCourt, our photographer, is ridiculously talented and captured the raw emotion throughout the day. He’s one of the nicest people we’ve ever met and made us and our guests feel completely at ease. We’ve met up since to look over our prints and I couldn’t recommend him enough.
Wayne, our videographer from Green Biscuit, is equally as lovely and talented. We haven’t received our video yet but we’re confident it will be perfection as every piece of his work that we have watched has brought me to happy tears.
What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?
We chose Day 1 by HONNE as the lyrics reminded us of us. Not many of our guests had heard of it but it’s one of our favourites. Tom is a much better dancer than me, which doesn’t take much, so the smooth beats were fun to step and twirl to.
Did you have any evening entertainment?
During the day we had the very talented Lewis Curry playing guitar and piano. At night we had the amazing Smooth Sailors playing funky disco music which every one of our guests loved. I don’t think anyone would be able to find a better wedding band. They are a great bunch who bring great energy to the room.
Tell us about your wedding cake.
Our main cake was a five-tier cheese tower which we served with crackers, chutney and fruit. We also had a huge doughnut wall gifted by the delicious Weirdough doughnut company which our guests devoured in minutes. There was also the South Causey sweet trolley and a family friend made a large cupcake tower and tasty biscuit tree. We’re known for our love of snacks and all things sweet so it was essential we had well-fed guests who each took home a bag of goodies.
If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?
If I’m honest, I wish I hadn’t worried about having the ‘perfect’ bridal body because I missed out on months of great food and wine. Husbands ask their wives to marry them before they start their wedding diet which means they love them at any size.
Did anything go wrong on the day?
Nothing major thankfully. Andrew’s microphone stopped working during his speech but he made a joke of it and moved on. He made us extremely proud as he had the whole room in fits of laughter albeit at our expense.
Was there anything you wish you’d known before?
I don’t think so because I loved figuring it all out. The only thing that caused a minor stress was when we initially planned to buy made to measure bridesmaids' dresses from a pricey city centre shop. It turned out that the dresses weren’t made to measure at all and they just ordered the nearest size to your measurements and alterations were an extra cost. In the end we bought different dresses for each bridesmaid from high street shops and they looked beautiful.
Where did you go on honeymoon?
We were very lucky that our guests were so generous and contributed so kindly to our honeymoon savings. We spent a few days at home enjoying the summer sun and recovering from such a busy wedding weekend. We then spent a relaxing week at Tom’s family cottage in the lakes as a little mini-moon. We had a particularly gorgeous spa day at Nowhere in Ulswater. We even met up with friends for a day of climbing and drinking.
Around seven weeks after the wedding we flew to Indonesia for three weeks of honeymoon bliss. We explored the stunning delights that Bali and Lombok have to offer. Indonesia is the perfect honeymoon destination as it has outdoor adventures, perfect beaches and amazing nightlife. All of our hotels were stunning, especially the Four Seasons in Sayan. Our stay at The Lombok Lodge was like living in an alternative universe where everything is perfect and beautiful. Numerous devastating earthquakes had ruined the homes of all the staff only weeks before yet they provided the most outstanding customer service. We loved our amazing honeymoon adventure.
Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
It is important to remember that it is your day and it should reflect both your tastes. Also try to enjoy the planning, even when it feels overwhelming. Remember you are planning what will probably be the best day of your lives so it will be worth it. I would meet up with friends and family to make it fun every step of the way.
Steal their style:
Venue: The South Causey Inn
Photographer: Dan McCourt
Videographer: Green Biscuit
Flowers: Thoughts of You
Bride's dress: Marrime
Mother of the bride's dress: Marriane Fashions
Suits: Most Suitable
Acoustic artist: Lewis Curry
Band: Smooth Sailors
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