Real Weddings


Sarah Symonds

Are you ready for a totally romantic wedding on the Wirral? Sarah and Mark have pulled out all the stops and gone for a classic, relaxed style with an explosion of colour!

We’ve got bright, summery sunflowers, paired with pops of hot pink and pretty lilac blooms.

Sarah just makes the most beautiful bride in a romantic, boho style two-piece, surrounded by her best girl gang wearing a mix of bridesmaid dresses in a variety of fun hues that really reflect their personal style. Not even the rain could dampen the spirits of this pair. It just goes to show that, even though you can’t control the weather, it really doesn’t matter on the day! And the historical and beautiful Leverhulme Hotel would look grand regardless, particularly when you’re rocking up in a Rolls Royce!

If you fancy a bit of a theme but don’t want to go all out, this is a perfect example of how to nail it. Alongside quirky gin bottle table decorations, Sarah and Mark introduced a travel theme, incorporating photos of themselves on favourite holidays and bringing back memories of trips they’ve taken together, whisking their guests off on a whistle-stop tour around the world.

The celebrations culminated in one heck of a party with the couple’s favourite tunes providing a top playlist making it hard for guests to leave the dancefloor – including our very own Features Editor Rachel, who was thrilled to be a part of friends Mark and Sarah’s special day with her beau Andy.

With images by Sarah Glynn Photography


Sarah says

: We got engaged on 3rd March 2018. We had planned a trip to Hathersage in the Peak District to celebrate it being one year since we bought our house. In the lead up to the weekend we thought that we may not be able to go; due to heavy snowfall brought by ‘The Beast from the East’ all trains had been cancelled! Mark stayed remarkably calm, considering what he had planned, and we managed to reach our destination. On the first day we went for a walk in the snow. Mark suggested taking a picture, which is quite unusual for him as I am usually the one who wants to take photos! When I turned around, he was down on one knee in the snow. I had been expecting a proposal for a while but thought it would happen when we were on holiday abroad, so it took me completely by surprise! It was such a beautiful setting and we have been able to visit the exact spot since, which is a lovely way to relive the great memories.


We chose Saturday 27th of July 2019 for our wedding date. As teachers, we thought this was perfect as it gave us a week of the summer holidays to prepare and then plenty of time afterwards for our honeymoon. This proved to be a very popular date, especially with other teachers, so we were very lucky that our chosen venue had availability.

We got married at Leverhulme Hotel, in Port Sunlight on the Wirral in Merseyside. Our ceremony and reception were both at this stunning venue. Very soon after our engagement we started looking at venues on Merseyside, which is where I’m originally from. As we live in Sheffield, this meant several lovely weekends staying with my family and visiting different venues. Leverhulme was actually the first venue we looked around, and nothing compared to it afterwards, in our eyes. As a history teacher, the historical story behind the village of Port Sunlight and the building itself was very appealing, and both are absolutely beautiful. We loved the unique combination of the 1907 building and the art deco style interior. All of the rooms felt so large and full of light, and it was great that there were so many rooms available for us to use on the day, including a large ballroom, two bar areas and other rooms that guests could use to relax in. From start to finish, the staff at the venue were amazing – so keen to help in any way to make our day exactly how we wanted it, and also very friendly and fun whenever we visited. It’s a total hidden gem and we’re so proud to say we got married there.


We didn’t have a specific theme running through everything, but there was a sprinkling of travel-related ideas throughout our wedding. An important part of our relationship has been travelling, and we have the best memories of all of the places we have visited together. We had luggage tag style ‘Save the Dates’ and postcard style invitations, and globes as part of our venue decoration. Each table was named after a place we have visited together, and guests found their seats from a world map seating plan titled ‘Where in the world are you sitting?’ On each table was a photo album with photos of Mark and me at that destination, which guests could look through during the meal. Many of our guests commented that they loved this personal touch.

We chose a bright, floral, summery colour-scheme. It was really important to us that our wedding was fun and relaxed, and we thought that bright colours and lots of sunflowers would fit with this. As the venue has such great natural light as well, we wanted the flowers to be very bright to really stand out.


My dress was from Dorothy Rose Bridal Boutique in Ellesmere Port. My best friend Hayley recommended this boutique, as they made her beautiful wedding dress when she got married, and she always raved about how brilliant they were. I loved the shop from our first visit. We were made to feel so welcome and they treated us like friends every time I visited for fittings. I found my dress during the very first visit and knew it was the one. The process was bespoke and took three fittings to perfect. They were very accommodating and adapted all of the aspects exactly as I wanted them. My dress was actually two pieces and is a romantic, boho take on a classic gown. I wore it with my best friend’s veil as my ‘something borrowed’.


Mark and the groomsmen wore navy blue suits from Moss Bros, with grey, checked waistcoats, ties and pocket squares from Next.


I had my best friend Hayley as my maid of honour, and then three bridesmaids. They’re all so different, and I wanted them to feel comfortable in their dress, so they chose their own, in a range of bright jewel colours. They also live in all different parts of the country, so many photos of dresses were sent back and forth to check the colours would complement each other! The dresses were from Coast, Scarlett and Jo and In One Clothing. We were so happy with the end result. The bright colours look so vibrant, especially with their bouquets.


The bridal party’s hair was done by Amy Thexton Hairdressing and make up was by Thomas Jack Make Up. Amy and Thomas are both so talented and we were all thrilled with the looks that they created.


We were so lucky that the wedding package at Leverhulme includes use of one of their three cars – we chose a navy blue Rolls Royce for my brother and me to travel to the venue in. My best friend’s lovely dad, Steve, bought some ribbons for his car and he drove the bridesmaids and my mum to the venue.


Sarah Glynn was our photographer. We cannot recommend Sarah highly enough! From our first meeting with her, we just clicked and knew that her great personality, sense of fun and incredible skill would be the perfect fit for our wedding day. On the day, Sarah went above and beyond to make sure everything ran smoothly. She blended in with the guests, which was exactly what we wanted as it meant she was able to follow a documentary-style approach and capture so many informal moments. She put us at ease throughout the whole day and we are so happy with the photographs. Every picture shows the love, laughter and happiness of the day and we will cherish them forever.


The main decorations for the venue were the flowers. We found our florist, Leaf, in Heswall on the Wirral and they were so great at making our ideas a reality. When I saw my bouquet and the venue flowers for the first time, I was absolutely amazed. It was exactly what I’d envisioned. I carried a round bouquet of bright summer flowers, including sunflowers. The bridesmaids carried slightly smaller versions of the same bouquet.

My talented mum and grandma created some silk flower arrangements in jam jars, for around the venue, tied with brightly coloured ribbons. These were paired with unusual gin bottles, that our families had collected, containing fairy lights.

Mark also surprised me the day before the wedding with a fabulous painting of the venue, which he had commissioned our friend, Caroline at Paint Potts, to paint for us. We displayed this in the venue on the day and it was a real talking point.

We hired our own chairs from Wirral Table and Chair Hire, as we love the chiavari style and thought their design worked really well with the venue and the décor. The company were really easy to work with.


We chose a four-tier semi-naked cake with orange, lemon, vanilla and carrot flavoured layers. This was made by Love Cake Wirral. Our florist then provided a selection of brightly coloured flowers for decoration, and we also added fresh berries. My mum’s cousin, Margaret, added the decoration on the morning of the wedding and she did a fabulous job! The cake tasted delicious, and many guests commented on how tasty it was. My mum also set up a donut wall, which proved very popular!


My mum and I filled little jars with brightly coloured jelly beans. I wrote each guest’s name on brown labels and tied them to the jars with twine, so they doubled up as name labels.


For the wedding breakfast, we started with pâté and brioche, then had steak in peppercorn sauce for the main and chocolate profiteroles with cream for dessert. We chose dishes that are our own personal favourites, and many guests commented on how great the food was.


The music for the evening was so important to us, as we love to dance and we wanted our wedding to be a big party! When we found Wedding Jam we knew they would be perfect for us, as they are so passionate about music. After our initial music consultation, we were put in touch with Clare as her style matched what we wanted. She was great throughout the whole process as we discussed our preferences with her. The dance floor was full the whole night and it was a great party!

Special touches

It was so important to us that our friends and families were involved in special touches for the day. My mum’s partner, Geoff, made a wooden post box for us from scratch and decorated it with ‘The Howards’. My friend, Claire, did a reading during our ceremony, which I had adapted from the lyrics from Is That Alright from the film, A Star is Born.

As a surprise for us on the day, my mum got ‘Our Love Story’ made on a large board including key details from our relationship. This was from Heart Invites. We also had an ‘In Loving Memory’ table, displaying photographs of some of our loved ones who are sadly no longer with us, as we wanted them to be a part of our day.

Our wedding rings were custom-made by Jessica Flinn Jewellery. Jessica has a beautiful studio in the Peak District and she was fantastic to work with. Mark’s ring is made from Sheffield steel and I chose a white gold twist design. We had both rings engraved with ‘Made in Sheffield’ in tribute to the city that has been so important in our relationship.

Thanks to

We would absolutely recommend Leverhulme to another couple. The venue is beautiful and unique, the setting is so pretty, and the staff were a dream from start to finish.

Best bit

Mark and I made sure that we took a step back at a few key points during the day to take it all in. Looking around and seeing all of the people we love most in the same room, having a great time, was amazing and these are memories we will treasure. It also gave us some time together to soak it all in.


We went to America on honeymoon four days after the wedding. We visited two old favourites (Las Vegas and Boston) and two new places (Chicago and Washington DC). It was a busy trip and there was lots to see and do, so we made sure that we fitted in some downtime too. It was great to relax and reminisce about our wedding day.


My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to enjoy the planning process – we never found it stressful at all and actually really enjoyed it! I think this was mainly due to us being organised and aiming to get a few little jobs ticked off each week.

During the planning I found reading about other real weddings on Brides Up North particularly useful for many ideas and for inspiration.

It’s also so important to get a photographer that you get on well with, as they are there with you throughout the whole day. We were so lucky as we got on so well with Sarah. She was brilliant and so much fun to work with.

Finally, I would say, don’t worry about the weather! It rained a lot on our day and it made no difference at all.

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