White Heat - James and Charlotte Manby (née Bradbury)
25 Jul 2011
White Heat - James and Charlotte Manby (née Bradbury)
The wedding of Charlotte and James Manby was a sophisticated, elegant affair
James and I were childhood sweethearts. We met on a school expedition to Honduras when we were 17 but were considered a mismatch at first. However, we were more alike than everyone first assumed. We spent our university days in Newcastle, living separately but checking in regularly. After finishing university we knew this was for keeps and so decided to move in together. After a while James began to realise that, after eight years together, it might be time to pop the question!
“It’s fair to say that the proposal didn’t quite go according to plan,” says James. “An unreliable jeweller meant that the weekend away in the Lakes came and went without a ring, so I had to improvise. As a surprise one night, we went for dinner in a restaurant we used to frequent when at university – Charlotte had no idea I was about to propose. I was talking incessantly throughout the starter and main course, and eventually picked up the courage to produce the ring. She liked the ring so much that she didn’t give me an answer straight away as she was staring at it open-mouthed! When I asked for a second time she said yes… and the planning commenced.”
We knew we wanted a venue that would cater for both the civil ceremony and the reception. As soon as we drove through the gates of the stunning Swinton Park, we knew it was the ideal place for us. It has beautiful rooms, the staff are fantastic, and the wonderful menu choices really sealed the deal for us. If anyone has been lucky enough to have eaten there, they’ll know how incredible the food is. Everything is either handpicked from the gardens, or is locally sourced.
As for the choosing the dress, having worked in fashion for a number of years, I know exactly what shape and style flatters my figure best. I chose a white gown in soft chiffon with an off-the-shoulder bodice, designed by the Milanese designer Le Spose di Gio. I originally saw a picture in a magazine and knew it was the dress I had to have! On the morning of the wedding, after a rather jolly dinner with close friends and family the night before, I woke feeling not much like a bride: rather than being full of anticipation and excitement, I was more focussed on my headache! After a breakfast with my girls, the cobwebs soon cleared and I was eager for what the day had in store. There were absolutely no nerves at all – I was marrying the man of my dreams.
The hairdresser arrived at 11am to get started. The bridesmaids all had matching hairstyles, which really suited them. The make-up artist arrived at 12.30pm to do our make-up. While all the girls’ preparations were going on, James, our fathers and the ushers went clay-pigeon shooting.
“Similar to Charlotte, I woke on the big day feeling a bit the worse for wear,” says James. “A hearty breakfast soon sorted that out and a morning of clay-pigeon shooting in the open air cleared the head before the nerves settled in. Waiting at the front of the ceremony room for Charlotte to appear seemed like an age, but once I saw her walking down the aisle looking stunning, my nerves disappeared. They reappeared again just prior to the first dance, but it’s fair to say it was the best day of my life.”
The ceremony was the most daunting part, as it was ‘all eyes on us’, but now we both agree that it was the best part of the day! The three bridesmaids gave readings, as did James’s father. We had a busker playing a selection of modern and old-school music, and it helped to make the mood more relaxed. I walked up the aisle to Wonderful Tonight and we left as husband and wife to Signed, Sealed, Delivered!
Andy and Jill Sutcliffe were our photographers and we can’t thank them enough, because they really did capture every part of our special day. Our photography package included a pre-wedding shoot taken at Swinton Park, which really helped to settle the nerves, to relax us in front of the camera and allowed us to explore the venue. We’d recommend this for anyone, and it meant that we could present photos from the day as gifts to our parents on our wedding day to thank them for their help and support.
Our cake was made by a family friend, Sandra Dunning. It was a five-tiered milk chocolate cake decorated with milk chocolate flowers and fresh white orchids. We are chocolate lovers and were thrilled with the final result. It tasted delicious and went down a storm.
We wanted our favours to be easy, simple and inexpensive so all the guests were presented with a lottery ticket. This also added an extra dimension (audience participation) to the groom’s speech (10% of winnings to go to the bride and groom or behind the bar – unfortunately there were only three winners out of 100 guests).
I was absolutely delighted with the flowers: they looked beautiful and there were many comments made during the day and afterwards about them. Our florist was Susie Hart of Hart Company. She was very personable, and worked extremely hard to understand what we wanted, and then exceeded our expectations. My bouquet was a teardrop of white orchids; I wanted something simple and elegant. This was carried through to James and the ushers, who wore orchid buttonholes. The bridesmaids held bouquets of avalanche roses to complement the blush-coloured dresses. Various pedestals, storm lanterns and other embellishments kept to the white, simple and sophisticated theme that we were going for.
In the evening, our first dance was to Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together, performed live by soul band Casino. They mixed live sets with a DJ in between, so we had a real mixture. The evening do was a real party – the dance floor was full right up until 1am!
Venue and catering: Swinton Park | 01765 680971, swintonpark.com
Photographer: Andy Sutcliffe Photography | 01422 382004, andysutcliffephotography.com
Flowers: Susie Hart, Hart Company | 01765 650208, hartcompany.co.uk