Real Weddings

Essense Of Australia For A September Wedding At Middleton Lodge – Sarah & Mike

Katie Byrne

Sarah and Mike opted for modern-meets-rustic details for their late summer celebration.

When Sarah and Mike booked the gorgeous Middleton Lodge to be the location for their ‘I do’s, the precise space within the stately home they had their eye on was mid-way through renovations. The venue’s Kitchen Gardens was the perfect spot for this couple to swap their vows with everything about it – from the decor to the mood – fitting their style perfectly.

Sarah and Mike opted for not one but three wedding cakes – and you’ve got to check out their ‘cakescape’ installation. (In the words of the bride: “yes, it’s a thing!”) As well as their trio de gâteaux, they also treated their guests to a whole table filled with delectable sweet treats. Gold-flecked marshmallow cube, anyone?

From the cakes to the colours! A subtly warm scheme – influenced by a colour analysis session that Sarah had before the wedding – meant the day was filled with irresistible shades that fitted the closing-in-on-autumn setting to perfection.

Read on to see the day played out in all its glory!

With images by S6 Photography.


Sarah says

: We had been away travelling and working in Australia for two years. We had lived with Mike’s aunt and uncle in Perth for a short period but then travelled the East Coast and both found work in Melbourne. We were due to leave Australia in December 2016 to go and travel across New Zealand and America, with plans to return to the UK in March 2017.

In October 2016, when we were living in Melbourne, Mike’s job took him back to Perth for a few weeks without me. While there, he secretly bought an engagement ring. We returned to Perth for Christmas together and Mike’s aunty gave me a birthday present in a large gift bag to open in March whilst we were in America. We carried this bag from Perth to Christchurch, Christchurch to Auckland (camping near mountains and living in camper vans!) – then Auckland to LA, LA to Chicago and, finally, Chicago to New York.

All through the travels, this ‘birthday gift’ was in checked luggage! We were in New York on my birthday (March 9th) and as I opened birthday cards in our hotel room, Mike suggested I opened his aunty’s present. I was reluctant to open it so early in the day knowing this was my only birthday gift. The bag had a large box in it which then had a smaller box and as I opened it Mike got down on one knee and proposed. The biggest surprise ever and the birthday gift was in fact my secret engagement ring!

We spent the day in Times Square, walked the Brooklyn Bridge and ate at my favourite pizza place followed by drinks at Grand Central Station, watching the world go by. It was an amazing day and I kept having flashbacks to all the times I had thrown this ‘birthday gift’ around precariously for months – and how thankful I was it made it safely to the proposal!


Our wedding date was September 1st 2018. We originally wanted September 8th but our photographer wasn’t available on that date so we snapped up the week before ASAP and decided September 1st would be a memorable date. We hoped the weather was still going to be good at that time of year – though of course, we knew it was the one thing we couldn’t control. Happily enough, luck was on our side on the day!

We got married at Middleton Lodge in North Yorkshire. The ceremony took place at the Old Forge Barn and the reception was held in the Fig House in the Kitchen Gardens. The venue is absolutely beautiful. It was perfect for our style in every way. We initially looked at the Main House at Middleton Lodge and although it is stunning, it didn’t feel quite ‘us’ in terms of style. The Kitchen Gardens as a venue is difficult to describe: it’s quirky, it’s different, it’s modern-meets-rustic, it’s eclectic… and was just absolutely perfect for us. I don’t know anyone who has ever visited it and not fallen in love.

At the time we were searching, the Kitchen Gardens was still in development as a complete wedding venue. We were particularly looking for a barn-style venue for our ceremony and whilst the outbuildings and the gardens existed, we really had to visualise what was to come through the development in the months that followed. It was so exciting and we visited as often as we could from Derbyshire. We saw the plans, of course, and followed the progress month by month. We were in love with the whole place and it definitely did not disappoint when it was finished. We really couldn’t have found a more perfect venue for us.

The Fig House literally has fig trees growing up the wall against rustic original brickwork and looks out onto the most beautfiul gardens. In the evening, there were fire pits, meaning guests could continue to sit outside as the evening began to cool. It was amazing. We would definitely recommend the venue – we’re in love with the place and it’s difficult not to be! We can’t wait to return. I wish it were closer to home so we could come back more often but maybe it’s a good thing that it isn’t…!


We didn’t have a specific theme. Rather, we opted to create an extension of the venue’s style in everything we chose. We ended up going for a more neutral theme but brought a pop of warm colour in through the flowers and the men’s attire. The men’s suits were navy blue with a warm orange/honey colour-mix in the ties and pocket squares, as well as detailed edging to the suits and buttons.

I had a colour analysis session before the wedding and learned that warm colours sit better with me. This made sense and explained why I was attracted to the colour of the dress I chose and we therefore ensured we continued with that line of thinking when choosing the details for our day.


My wedding dress was from Essense of Australia and was in a champagne colour. Compared to ivory, for example, the colour brought a warmer tone to the dress and was the perfect colour for me.

My gown was purchased from Ivory White in Duffield. Ivory White is a beautiful wedding dress shop in Duffield near Belper in Derbyshire. Melissa the owner was just incredible: she helped me initially to understand my shape and why this dress was so well suited for me.

I didn’t actually select my wedding dress to try on initially – I thought I was looking for something with shoulder or sleeve detail. Melissa was incredibly patient with me when trying on different dresses and I did go back more than once or twice because I wanted to be sure I had chosen the best one I could find. I also wanted to be double-sure because the style wasn’t actually one I had initially envisaged!

It took me some time to accept the shift in my thinking but I also knew it was the only dress that made my face light up every time I tried it on.

The detail on the dress was amazing, the colour was perfect both for me and to draw out the details. The style was absolutely the right one and I can’t thank Melissa enough. I searched high and low for my dress and never experienced anywhere else that offered such clarity and amazing support and service.


Mike wore a navy suit purchased from Gray’s Menswear in Chesterfield. The suit was complemented with a grey waistcoat which had a subtle blue-and-orange check and Mike wore it with a paisley floral tie that featured shades of blue, orange and honey; this was from TM Lewin. It was different and unusual – just like our venue and styling! My one and only non-negotiable was that his suit had to be in a warm rather than a cool colour and he chose well.

All the groomsmen wore the same as the groom. They all scrubbed up so well and looked brilliant – all six of them!


My bridesmaids wore a warm (of course) latte colour. The dresses were from La Belle Boutique in Mansfield and were fitted at Moon Exclusives in Charnock, Sheffield as it was more local and accessible for us.

It was the discussion with my florist that helped to bring the pop of colour perfectly through to their bouquets to bring the whole colour scheme alive. I was so pleased with the whole effect but didn’t know until the day what she would come up with. My girls looked amazing!


Our glam was done by Jenn Edwards & Co, with hair by Amy and make-up by Kelly. These girls were amazing. All my suppliers travelled a long way to be with us on the day and I can’t thank them enough for sticking with us and being there. They were absolutely brilliant!


We didn’t need transport as everything was on site at Middleton Lodge and all within walking distance. My bridal party stayed the evening before and Mike and the groomsmen came over that morning to get ready on-site too – making sure they didn’t see me, of course! Our venue was perfect for this especially as the ladies moved over to the Farmhouse with a couple of hours to go. We were right by the Old Forge Barn where the ceremony was to take place but were completely private – it was perfect!


Jon Dennis of S6 Photography took our wedding pictures. We even moved our proposed wedding date around his availability!

It was so important to me to have Jon with us on our big day as I had seen and loved his work. He was the first thing I booked along with the venue and registrar – once they were all booked, we could breathe again and fill in the rest of the gaps!

It was only ever going to be S6 Photography and Jon Dennis. Not only is he a genuinely nice guy but his portfolio is incredible – I love his style, love how he works and I trusted him 100%. He did the most amazing job and I will forever be grateful to him.


Our awesome wedding video was filmed by S6 Photography.


Our florist was Louise Price from Number 27 Floral Design – what a talented woman. I couldn’t find anything that matched the beautiful flowers she was creating and am so lucky she was available for our date. She is a beautiful person inside and out and we love her!

My bouquet included café latte roses, patience rose, majolica spray rose, caramel antique rose, zinnias phlox and wild clematis, which the men’s button holes complimented perfectly.

Louise created displays for the ceremony, too. We had aisle displays and huge urn creations displayed on rustic crates. The flowers were so beautiful and were also used to decorate the Fig House too, where we had the reception. These blooms included cosmos, ammi, dahlias and hydrangea, as well as lots of foraged seasonal greenery. They were stunning.

Kayleigh Tarrant designed our table name cards, seating plan, menu cards and order of the day. She was brilliant. Her work is immaculate and our signage was spot on! We booked her quite late on (I was in a panic) and she made me feel at ease and delivered everything on time for us.


Instead of providing wedding favours, we made charitable donations to Weston Park Cancer Hospital Charity in Sheffield and Macmillan Cancer Care. We let our guests know we had done this on their behalf and trust that they supported our choice. Both these organisations have touched our lives through family members we have lost and who were therefore unable to be with us on our big day.


We had a cakescape! Yes, really – it’s a thing. We chose three separate cakes, which were displayed together as a cakescape, made by the self-penned ‘badass baker’ Natalie O’Dowd of Ruby Lou’s Cake Company.

You know it’s going to be a great day when your wedding coordinator tells you she’s never seen anything quite like your wedding cakes! We had other treats as part of the display, which included melt-in-the-mouth macarons, marshmallow cubes and chocolate-covered cake squares with gold leaf decoration. They were all transported from Nottingham and were amazing.


We chose a three-course feast-style menu. The starter was plated and served with baskets of different breads and chutneys; the main meal offered a different take on a traditional roast beef menu, with the meal part-plated and with vegetables and side dishes in bowls for guests to help themselves to. The dessert was lemon olive oil cake with blackberry sorbet, all served with a choice of red or white wine or the obligatory prosecco!


We had an amazing wedding singer, Hattie Murdoch. We were so lucky we managed to book her as she was initially already booked up for our date but contacted us later due to a cancellation. How lucky were we – she is a beautiful lady with a beautiful voice and we can’t recommend her highly enough!

Hattie sang whilst Mike and I were signing the register and continued until all our guests had left the ceremony to make their way to the reception. She then joined us at the Fig House and played outside in the beautiful sunshine in the Kitchen Gardens whilst guests mingled before the wedding breakfast.

We would recommend anyone to have a wedding singer and we couldn’t recommend Hattie more highly. We had so many comments from our guests on her and she was an absolutely amazing addition to our day.

We booked The Ultimate Wedding DJ for the evening. They are based in the North East and are super efficient. You get your own account through their website and can add the songs you want to be played – it offers a personal touch and means guests could request any songs they wanted.

Best bit

It’s difficult to choose – all of it! However, the ceremony was perfect. It was informal, relaxed and very personal, which is exactly what we wanted.


We went to Riviera Maya, Mexico for two weeks of eating, drinking and laying down. We stayed at a new hotel called Unico 20 87, which is all-inclusive. It was beautiful. We had a swim-up room and all the staff were amazing – so attentive and they couldn’t have done enough for us. There were three pools and five restaurants as well as cafes and bars where they made the best amaretto sours – ever!


Take it all in and enjoy every moment. The last half-hour before the ceremony goes by so quickly, so take it all in. Try not to stress out because everything always ends up working out. The preparations can be stressful (as they were for us) but try and do one thing at a time and get a tick-list together. Also, make sure you find time for each other on the big day!

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