Tags: Yorkshire

The Perfect Party

22 Sep 2011

The Perfect Party

Sarah and Daniel Barlow chose New Year’s Eve as the ideal date for their winter wedding

Image gallery

Image gallery

Wedding of Sarah Hastings and Daniel Barlow

By Sarah & Daniel

We met at speed dating in March 2004. Daniel was there as his friend Martin had suggested they go and I was there with 2 friends. It only took Daniel 3 minutes to win me over! I told him I was a tax advisor and he thought I said a taxi driver so that was a good ice breaker. We had a chat after the speed dating had finished and it all went from there….

A week later we had our first date in Leeds and we went for dinner at Arts Café which is still a very special restaurant for us. We had a laugh while we were in there as we saw 2 other couples made up from people that we’d seen at speed dating the week before!

On 2 October 2010, Daniel proposed. He offered to cook dinner and I remember thinking he was going to a lot of effort as he whisked up a scallop starter, a beef fillet main and my favourite chocolate fondant dessert. He thought about hiding the ring he had bought in the middle of my fondant but then thought better of it as (being chocolate) he knew it would get eaten! When he proposed I was so excited I forgot to say yes and just stood there crying. A flurry of late night phonecalls and the opening of champagne ensued. I couldn’t really sleep that night and just kept gazing at my beautiful engagement ring that fit perfectly!

As Martin was the reason that we met, Daniel made everyone stand up and drink a toast at our wedding to “Martin’s dry spell”!!

A week after we got engaged, we went to a wedding fair at Hazlewood and walked out knowing we wanted to get married there – it was perfect! We wanted somewhere fairly traditional but with a modern twist but what swung it for us was the beautiful little chapel. We wanted a church type wedding but neither of us are regular church-goers. We had a cursory look at another venue but had fallen in love with Hazlewood so within 10 days of getting engaged, the venue was booked. I wanted some entertainment outside the chapel that was really quirky, like a fire eater – it took me 13 months of persuasion but 2 weeks before the wedding, my husband to be finally caved and I got my fire eater!

Being a born organiser, the next 14 months were run with military precision and an abundance of spreadsheets and to do lists with a bemused groom who just couldn’t fathom out why the big day would take so much organising!

The first thing we did was get the bridesmaid dresses sorted. My favourite colour is red but I knew at least one of my bridesmaids wouldn’t thank me for putting her in red so we opted for purple – we wanted a deep striking colour that would match the time of year and would look good with the grey suits we’d chosen for the boys. It would also be easy to run as a theme through the wedding and would match the Great Hall (where the wedding breakfast would be held) perfectly…

We then met our florist and decided on pink and purple flowers – as vintagey as possible in both the bridesmaids’ bouquets and the candelabras that were to go on the tables.

I surprised myself with my dress choice. Originally I thought I would go for something traditional. When I saw ‘the dress’ on the hanger, I didn’t like it. The lady in the shop where I first saw it made me try it on as she thought it would suit me and I remember saying I would try it on for a laugh. My mum was sat outside the dressing room and said she just heard a series of ‘oooh’s and ‘hmmmm’s before I came out with a huge smile on my face. I must’ve tried on 40 dresses and always thought the line about knowing it was ‘the one’ was a load of rubbish, but here I was thinking those exact words! I ordered it in a champagne colour as we’d started to think we wanted a very subtle vintage type theme to run through the wedding with a modern twist.

Our invitations were designed by Daniel’s brother and his (now) wife. We gave them a brief which consisted of purple ribbon and an idea of having two rings interlinked somewhere on the invitations and left it up to them. The end result was perfect! They arranged for the invitations and the order of services (complete with purple ribbon) to be printed on matching paper.

My mum (MOB) bought her outfit at Ragdoll in Pudsey – after much shopping around, the same Ian Stuart dress kept popping up in all of the shops so we decided it was fate! I thought she looked amazing on the day and the colour was perfect as it was gold with a lilac shimmer through it – very sex and the city!

My mum in law (MOG) bought her outfit at Feminique in stratford – she wanted something versatile that would take her comfortably through the day and be glitzy on the evening to go through to new years eve and tone with the colour scheme on the day.

Sarah: Being a fan of sleeping, I set my alarm for 730 (I knew I wouldn’t wake up naturally!!!) as the hairdressers were arriving at 8 and the make up artists at 830. No sooner had I got up than there was a knock on the door and the make up artists had arrived. The morning was really good fun. We had bacon sandwiches and champagne in the room and my sister in law presented me with an invitation that she’d had framed. I found I couldn’t just sit down and chill out as it made me nervous, so me and one of the bridesmaids went and put out the confetti cones in the chapel and tied bows around the lights on the pathway leading to the chapel. I felt nervous (mostly about having to do the first dance in front of 125 people!!) and really excited. I just wanted it all to go well and above all, everyone to have fun and for it to be a new year’s eve to remember for all involved!

We moved rooms at 12pm and got dressed in the bridal suite and had a champagne toast before the ceremony. At 1pm, I the toast master knocking on the door to say it was time to start and I started to feel very emotional.

Daniel: The best men, ushers and myself stayed at an apartment in Harrogate the night before and enjoyed a couple of beers (that’s the official account – as stated by the bride I was allowed not a drop more). We then headed off to Betty’s for breakfast the morning of the wedding to get us going first thing - a great venue but be sure to leave plenty of time if you plan on doing this – Betty’s service is focused on quality and not speed and we were a little behind schedule !!

The schedule slipped a little further as we walked back to the apartment as I had only packed my wedding shoes and on their second wear my feet were in agony and walking was difficult to say the least. Many people wandering down Harrogate high street that day looked strangely at the six foot bloke wearing casual clothes tip toeing down the street in some very shiny shoes. . .

After getting dressed with a great deal of urgency the traffic and a heated conversation with a traffic warden after picking up a ticket further delayed us on our quest to get to Hazelwood. Eventually we got there and the panic of getting there actually served me well as I hadn’t really thought about what was happening once I got to the church! This allowed me to take one deep breath once I got there and relax* and enjoy what was going to be the best day of my life . . .

*The father of the bride’s account is somewhat different as he had to do all the jobs the ushers were due to do on arrival. . .

The ceremony: The page boys walked down the aisle first with my mum, holding rings on cushions, followed by the bridesmaids and then me and my dad. I walked into Pachebel’s canon played by our amazing harpist. As I reached the top of the aisle and handed my flowers over, all the guests gave a massive cheer and clap. The ceremony itself was amazing, probably my favourite part of the day. Father Ian made it fun and lively without taking away from the formality of the occasion. We’d chosen 2 hymns – I vow to thee my country and Jerusalem, both linked to rugby – the second love of Daniel’s life! My brother read an excerpt from Capt Corelli’s Mandolin and Daniel’s brother’s fiancée read a poem called ‘Maybe’. The funniest part of the ceremony was the best man handing the wrong rings to us!

At the end of the ceremony, we walked out to Elbow’s ‘One day like this’ booming out. Our guests then formed a line down each side of the path and we walked through a ‘confetti tunnel’. At the end was a very welcome glass of champagne!

We then had the formal photos. Our photographer was brilliant, directed everyone without being bossy, was quick and inobtrusive. She then took us off for some more informal ones on our own. When the photos came back, we were blown away at how well she’d captured the essence of the day.

After the drinks reception, we had the wedding breakfast in the Great Hall. The tables had been dressed with ivory petals and purple and pink crystals. We’d put sweepstake packs and pens on each table for the speeches that were to follow the meal. The place settings were purple and silver baubles on which I’d written guest’s names in glitter and these doubled up as favours. The tables were named after our favourite wines (eg Cloudy Bay, Cabalie) and we tried to match guests to the wines (e.g. me and my friends from work drink Cloudy Bay a lot together so they sat at that table).

The speeches were the traditional format – my dad first, who made a lot of jokes about how his new son in law drinks his wine cellar dry on a regular occasion and as a tax accountant, I should balance the debits and credits but unfortunately I had handed him more debits than credits.. Daniel followed my dad, made regular toasts throughout his speech, took the mickey out of my brother for still taking his washing home and surprised everyone by getting emotional at a couple of points when talking about me and his mum. The two best men went last and made a great job of entertaining everyone with some funny stories or as Daniel likes to call them lies, lies, lies.

The day do finished at 630pm and our photographer spent the time between the day and

evening do getting guests to hold up a photo frame in couples/ groups of friends and taking pictures of them.. This means we have a fantastic collage that shows every single guest that was at our wedding and some rather funny photos!

The evening do started at 730pm when we cut the cake with a sword and did our first dance to Adele’s Make you feel my love. The funniest bit of the evening was Daniel trying to entertain all the guests, limbering up with lunges ready for the 1st dance, only for the toast master to whisper in his ear that he may want to halt his lunges as we had the cake to cut first! From then, the night descended into a massive party. We had a hog roast at 9pm followed by fireworks at 10pm, inflatable guitars and microphones on the dancefloor and the disco ended at 1pm with Take That’s Never Forget. We finally fell into bed at 4am, exhausted and elated from what was a perfect day!

Our wedding date was based around where we wanted to go on honeymoon!! Being a sun worshipper, I couldn’t bear the thought of gambling on a sunny summer wedding so we decided to go for a winter wedding which would avoid disappointment (as we expected the weather to be rubbish!) and would mean we could go to the Maldives on honeymoon. We chose Kuramathi Island together – we wanted an island that had a few restaurants and bars but wasn’t too big and it was perfect. An amazing 2 weeks! The day after the wedding, we went to a boutique hotel in Nottingham for the night that my parents had booked for us and then drove to Heathrow the next day. So much focus is all on the wedding day that you forget all about the honeymoon, so waking up the morning after the wedding with the realisation that we had an incredible 2 week holiday to look forward was a fantastic feeling.

What do you wish you knew before you started your planning?

This is a hard question to answer since we both thought that everything was so perfect for us on our wedding day and both said there is nothing that we would change if we did it all again.

I guess I wish I’d known just how impatient I was and that my dress would still be available to order 6 months later – I ordered it so early and then lost a lot of weight so consequently it needed altering drastically. I wish I’d just waited and ordered a smaller size 6 months later!

I also wish we’d known just how fast the day would fly by – we’d have started earlier to make the most of every single minute!

Sarah’s Top Tips:

1) Let your bridesmaids walk down the aisle first if you are nervous – it helps to follow someone rather than be first in and one of my bridesmaids said it was fantastic to be able to stand at the front and watch me walk down the aisle

2) Enjoy every single minute of your special day – it flies by in the blink of an eye!

3) Ensure your suppliers do venue visits – both our photographer and florist had some great ideas after they’d looked round the venue

Daniels Top Tips:

Ask the venue to provide each speech maker with a pint of beer as soon as they finish their speech – they’ll need one and if your anything like me you wont feel like drinking much prior to the speeches.

Also if you get chance take five minutes on your own with your new wife to have a look round the reception room prior to the wedding breakfast. You put so much effort into ensuring it looks beautiful and its lovely to take a couple of quiet moments taking it all in before the party gets started

What are your extra special moments from the day:

1) Standing on the altar as man and wife, hearing the Elbow song kicking in, hearing the words and thinking they completely echoed my thoughts at that moment in time – ‘its looking like a beautiful day!’

2) Seeing my husband to be’s face and the emotion in it as I started walking up the aisle

Sarah and Daniel Recommend:

The Venue:

Hazlewood Castle

01937 535353


The ceremony was in St Leonard’s Chapel at Hazlewood Castle. Father Ian who carried out the ceremony was absolutely fantastic – he made it upbeat, lively and fun without taking away from the seriousness and formality of the occasion. He got every one to cheer and clap when I arrived at the front of the altar – a welcome break from the quiet which helped break up the emotion! He also gave us tips on how to get the best photo shots and rehearsed us well so we knew exactly what to do and when on the big day.

Reception – Hazlewood Castle. The team at Hazlewood made our wedding day so special – every request was met, the staff are so pleasant and Melissa the wedding co-ordinator was an absolute pleasure to deal with - extremely obliging and helpful. Nothing was forgotten and we didn’t need to do anything on the day other than enjoy ourselves and leave the logistics and timings up to them. The hotel itself is beautiful and has a fantastically warm and informal atmosphere- nobody batted an eyelid when me and my bridesmaid were tottering round outside in our pyjamas on the morning of the wedding putting bows round the lights on the path!

The venue was also special to us because Daniel’s mum was born there (it was a maternity hospital from 1939-1953)


Leah Fox Harpist

01274 809661


Having a harpist added a beautiful atmosphere to our drinks reception and was a wonderful way to arrive for the service.


Faye Hatton Photography

0778 632 5562


I can’t recommend Faye enough. She was directional without being bossy, unobtrusive, offered some great ideas and when we got the photos back, we were blown away at how well she’d captured the essence of the day.

The Florist:

Joanne Dudley Flowers

07950 879123


I can’t recommend Joanne enough either!! She spent ages with us looking through magazines to get an idea of the kinds of things we liked, made suggestions and was honest where she thought things wouldn’t work. She was brilliant to deal with and even asked the hotel staff to move various arrangements from the ceremony to the reception.

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