The Peak District is a treasure trove of beautiful landscapes, heritage sites and historic houses and castles. Despite having all of this on our doorstep, it wasn’t difficult for us to choose a location for our wedding reception.
Chatsworth House, home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire is one of Britain’s iconic stately homes. It has been the set to many documentaries and popular period dramas, including the BBC’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and the more recent film, The Duchess. I have visited numerous times with my family, and have always loved the history and romance of the house, as well as the beautiful grounds, but until Rich surprised me by telling me he’d booked a viewing of the house with one of their wedding planners last September, I would never have dreamt that we would end up celebrating our wedding day there.
En route to the venue, we stopped at another iconic Peak District site: Stanage Edge for a few photos. This gritstone escarpment on the North Lees Estate also features in many a film scene, including two of my favourite adaptations, Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, but I mainly love it for the memories of blustery family walks to the precipice with warm flasks of tea.
Back at Chatsworth, the reception was in full swing when we arrived. Trays of Prosecco and Pimms were doing the rounds in the gorgeously renovated stable block, alongside a selection of stunning canapes.
Out in the courtyard, Simply Strings were playing a repertoire of modern classics.
It was time for us to take to the grounds, with our dedicated golf cart for transport to take some photographs. Our photographer, Brett Harkness took hundreds of stunning photographs that day, but here are just a selection of my favourites.
Our wedding breakfast was held in the old Carriage House, which with its vaulted ceilings and sculpted stone archways, provided the perfect space for round tables of ten, easily seating all 130 of our guests.
It had been beautifully set up by our wedding planners at Chatsworth, with giant LED Love Letters from GC Events lighting the hallway as you walk in.
The top table was elevated on a stage at the back of the room, and the white backdrop behind which was interspersed with fairylights, plus all of the chair covers and sashes were provided by Pretty Chairs.
On the tables, pretty displays of fish bowls and jam jars, laced with pale pink roses and cream freesias had been set up by Katie Peckett.
At each place, there was a small pot of Tiptree jam as a favour; a throwback to my childhood, when I lived in the nextdoor village to the Tiptree jam factory. The rustic luggage tag on each favour doubled up as a placename.
I absolutely adored all of our bespoke, rustic, hand-crafted stationary, from the lovely Norma & Dorothy. We had a heart and map theme running throughout (very apt for an ex-geographer and two avid travellers!): the table names were all places that mean a lot to us as a couple, from our home towns, to places we have visited on our travels; the rest of the stationary depicted heart-shaped maps showing the location of Chatsworth in the Peak District.
As you can see from the menu above, the food was a real highlight! Made using produce sourced from the Chatsworth Estate itself, it was typical English-country fayre at its best. It’s just a pity that Mr Sunshine and I didn’t get the chance to eat too much of it, as we were busy doing the rounds of the tables to say hi to all of those we hadn’t yet had a chance to speak with.
Everybody else seemed to enjoy it immensely though!
With wine in full flow, and much chatter, out came the coffees, and it was suddenly time for the much-anticipated speeches, some gift-giving and a top table selfie or two.
I always think the sign of a good set of speeches, is if you choke back a tear or two during the doting father of the bride’s speech, allow those tears to overspill when the loving groom takes to the mic, and then forget all about how emotional you were feeling a minute ago when the absolutely gut-wrenchingly hilarious best man takes centre stage. Well, we kind of got a piece of all of those elements in our speeches, bar my dad’s being maybe a tad too long (it was a full 25 minutes…not that I’m complaining!) and Mr Sunshine taking the mickey out of me far too much, as I knew he would (“It was when Polly first came to live in Doha that I realised the full extent of her spending habits. At one point my card was stolen and I decided not to report it because the thief was spending less than her!” VERY FUNNY HUBBY!). And then there was the best man, Rich’s twin brother Jim’s speech. It was absolutely bloody hilarious. I wouldn’t do it justice by picking out one stand-alone joke, so here is a link to it on YouTube for anyone that is interested enough to give it a watch!
Full of good spirits (in both senses of the word), we piled back out to the bar area, where candles had been lit everywhere, creating a magical glow which lit up the windows from outside.
We cut our gorgeous cake from The Organic Wedding Cake Company…
Had a little glance at the messages on our puzzle ‘guest book’ from Not On The High Street…
Pointed some people with cards towards our wedding letter box from Pretty Chairs…
And the party began.
Starting with an obligatory skinny arm and jumping shot with my oldest friends, The Essex Girls.
After which our amazing funk, soul and pop band, Supatight, headed by none other than Lifford Shillingford, lead singer to Artful Dodger’s ‘Please Don’t Turn Me On’, took to the stage.
Our first dance was Tom Odell’s ‘Grow Old With Me’, which holds so much meaning to us for so many different reasons.
Our friends joined us on the dancefloor and the night’s entertainment was officially underway.
Our night ended with Dave from Bliss Wedding DJ (who also provided the beautiful pink uplighting you can see in all of the pictures, plus the mics for the speeches) taking to the decks and playing some of our favourite classics as we danced in a big circle with our arms around our loved ones. It had been the best day and night of our lives and as we got into our car at the end of the night, we both wondered whether any day in the future would even come close. I squeezed the hand of my best friend who was also now my husband all the way back to the hotel.
Without wanting to sound too cheesy…it really did feel like a fairy tale.
All of the photos in this post were provided by our wonderful wedding photographer Brett Harkness. Check out his page for some truly stunning wedding, fashion and commercial photography, as well as his beautiful blog.
If this blog post has left you wanting even more details of our wedding (mums, this is mainly aimed at you!), then you can also check out our recent feature on the awesome wedding blog, Style And The Bride. We were so honoured to be featured, thank you so much to Marina for asking us!