Tags: Yorkshire

Love Train - Tom and Helena Rivers (née Giles)

25 Jul 2011

Love Train - Tom and Helena Rivers (née Giles)

A romance born in the snow was sealed amid the daffodils – and on a miniature railway – for Helen and Tom Rivers

We met on a skiing trip to La Tania in the three valleys, France, in 2004. We had a great holiday and started a great friendship but I was living near Edinburgh at the time and Tom was living in London; we kept in touch on email for a while but didn’t see each other again until the next ski trip, this time to Avoriaz.

Tom very chivalrously offered to give me a snowboarding lesson, which involved quite lot of flirting by both of us and some very bad beginner snowboarding by me; after about three hours I broke my wrist while Tom was showing off doing a jump. Several hours, painkillers and carafes of wine later, we got together…

The annual ski trip is a big part of our lives, and in 2009 we went back to the three valleys, this time to Maribel. Tom had planned that we would ski over to La Tania, which is where we’d met, and propose there. Unfortunately, there was a really big white-out and at first Tom thought he was going to have to wait another day. However, he made his way to a quiet section of piste among the trees; I skied up to find him on his knees – he asked me to marry him and when I said yes he gave me a beautiful ring!

Although we lived in London, I knew that I wanted to get married in Yorkshire. We looked at venues near to Knaresborough, where my parents have lived all my life. As a child, I’d spent a lot of my summer holidays at Newby Hall, playing within the grounds. The house is stunning, the gardens are lovely all year round, and, best of all, our wedding guests could go on the miniature railway, which was such a highlight of my childhood.

I went dress shopping in London so that I would be local for the fittings. It was very important to Mum that I had buttons down the back and I knew that I wanted something quite traditional, but beyond that I didn’t really have any strong ideas. I tried on all sorts of dresses, but the one I fell for was perfect except that it didn’t have the button-up back. So, I bought the dress in a massive size and the dress fitter altered it, adding the buttons.

On the big day I woke up feeling enormously excited – we were lucky enough to get wall-to-wall sunshine! The ceremony was conducted by Rev Elisabeth Sewell, at St John’s Church in Knaresborough. The church is a major part of the view from my parents’ house, and the bells would wake us up when we stayed at my grandparents’ house.

When looking for a photographer, we wanted someone who would capture the buzz of the day rather than take loads of formal shots – we found Damian online, and really liked his style. We had the normal formal shots outside the church, with a guest appearance from the family dog (complete with daffodil).

Tom and I travelled to Newby Hall in a wedding car, while the rest of the guests went on buses. We got there before our guests, and had a walk around the beautiful gardens, where Damian took some shots of just the two of us. The first activity after everyone had arrived was a trip on the miniature railway or a tour of the house. As it was such a beautifully sunny day, most people opted for the train ride, including Tom and I – we even got to have a go at driving!

We had the wedding breakfast in the main house – you couldn’t ask for a grander venue. The 120 guests were split between the statue room and the library, with the big double doors open between them. The food was great: Newby Hall only uses The Yorkshire Party Company for catering. The pre-wedding organisation was a little sketchy, but the food on the day was absolutely fantastic!

The evening do was in the Grantham Room. This room normally operates as a café and as such doesn’t have the grandeur of the main house, but dressed in white drapes and with candles and flowers all around, it looked wonderful. The route to the Grantham Room from the main house was lit by beautiful flame torches; the guests all walked although Tom and I travelled in a golf buggy. We didn’t have a designated dance floor but allocated the end of the room for dancing, so the dance area grew to accommodate the dancers. The band were great and our guests were all having a great time, so they didn’t take much encouraging to hit the floor – the dance area was full all night.

The Details

Venue: Newby Hall | 01423 322583, newbyhallandgardens.com

Catering: The Yorkshire Party Company | 01765 641920, yorkshireparty.co.uk

Photography: DJB Photography | 01423 641920, djbphotography.com

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