Real Weddings

Essense of Australia for a relaxed wedding at Hilltop Country House – Megan & Paul

Julia Smith

A strong family connection radiates through today’s beautiful real wedding with the bride and groom keen to include their nearest and dearest in both the planning and delivery of their special day.

Bringing many talents to the table; florals, décor, stationery, favours and the cake, were all handmade by the happy couple and their loving relatives, ensuring that each precious detail was all the more memorable.

Following their personal church ceremony, Megan and Paul continued their joyous celebrations at one of our very favourite North West venues, the picture-perfect Hilltop Country House. A family-run venue, the setting fitted in perfectly with our newlyweds’ plans on more levels than one, providing a stunning country garden backdrop for the reception…and those oh so pretty pictures!

If you too are attracted by the venue’s quintessential country charm then pull out those 2020 diaries and make a note of Sunday 13th September when we will be hosting a Luxury Wedding Show at Hilltop to showcase its exceptional spaces and wonderfully caring team!

With images by Lee Brown Photography


Megan says: We got engaged just over a year before we got married at High Force waterfall.

We had booked a hotel on the Northumberland and County Durham border in Blanchland for the weekend and on the journey up we had decided to make a stop for a walk at High Force.

Paul spent most of the walk trying to scope out the best spot to ask the question, eventually when we got to the top of the waterfall, he decided that was the place and asked me to marry him. We then went on to enjoy a lovely weekend away in a great hotel.


Our wedding date was 6th July 2019. We wanted to get married in the summer and on a Saturday. We got married at St Thomas’ Church in Henbury. We had decided that we wanted to get married in church and we were lucky enough to have a beautiful parish church and a great vicar.

Our reception was held at Hilltop Country House in Prestbury. We spent a long time deciding on a venue and viewed many. As soon as we went to visit Hilltop, we knew it was the one. The beautiful gardens, and the family feel sold it to us. The Gardner family who run the venue make everyone feel at home and really try to make your day special.


We didn’t have a theme to the wedding, but it was important to us to have family as involved as possible in our day. We wanted to keep costs down too, so much of our decorations were handmade by relatives. They were brilliant at helping us out, but we also made sure that they were able to enjoy the wedding and relax throughout the day.

We went for a pastel colour scheme, with the key colour being a light blue.


I wore an Essense of Australia dress, which was from Bellissima Brides in Brimstage on the Wirral. This was not the dress style I thought I was going to pick, the majority of dresses I tried on were simple and fitted. However, at the end of the fitting my mum convinced me to try something different and that was it. I had the ‘it’s the one’ moment.


Paul along with the groomsmen and page boys, wore a navy morning suit hired from Moss Bros. We were so pleased to be able to match the page boys’ suits with the rest of the groomsmen.


My bridesmaids wore dresses from Wed2B in light blue – they had four styles so each bridesmaid chose a different design.

I had two little flower girls who wore dresses from Next. I then had a dress maker (The Real Alice Couture in Hoylake), who fitted the bridesmaids and my dress, use the off cuts from the bridesmaid dresses to add a small sash on to each dress.


Local hairdresser, Georgina from Sugar Plum Hair in Congleton, came to do the bridesmaids’ hair and also mine and my mum’s.

The bridesmaids did their own make up on the day, and I had Ruth Ann Mobile Beauty to come to the venue to apply my makeup.


We hired a duck egg blue Morris Minor called Doris for our transport for between the church and venue. I had booked a lot of the aspects of the wedding without mentioning much to our families. My dad was completely over the moon with the Morris Minor as my great granddad had worked in the Morris Minor factory, so it was a great family connection. I had no idea about this went I booked the car! It was hired from Kristen who owns Doris the Morris.


Our photographer was Lee Brown. He made us both feel very comfortable and we just had so much fun taking our photos. The images are fantastic, and really captured the day. Lee air-dropped us a sneak peek for the photos after dinner, this allowed us to enjoy the photos the next day. I would recommend Lee to other couples.


Paul’s mum provided all our flowers. We spent a few days before the wedding wiring and putting them together. I carried a tied bouquet of pink and white Roses, blue Delphiniums and Eucalyptus. Paul’s mum put together a flower display for the top table and the mantel piece in the venue. My parents had made pots for the table centres which Paul’s parents had grown and planted up with pink and blue flowers.

My brother created and printed all our wedding stationery, including the table names and table plan.

To decorate the marquee, Hipswing adorned the ceiling with paper lanterns along the centre.


We had lavender hearts made by my mum for the ladies and chocolates tied in the same material for the men. For the children I made teddy bears out of felt and provided them with colouring books.


My mum made our cake – a five-tier fruit cake – and Paul’s mum provided flowers to decorate it.


For our wedding breakfast we had a fish cake to start, with Adlington lamb as main, and a sticky toffee pudding for dessert. The wedding breakfast was provided by the chief at the Hilltop. We had quite a formal dinner, but these were all things we enjoy and they were cooked to perfection.

For our evening food we hired Pizza Principles who had a wood fired pizza oven. This was served outside and was enjoyed by all.


My dad had created a playlist for us for the reception filled with love songs and personal songs. This played through the drinks reception and the wedding breakfast.

In the evening, we had a DJ who was provided as part of the venue’s package and worked great for the Hilltop ‘boogie room’.

Throughout the day we also had garden games in Hilltop’s gorgeous grounds.


Following our wedding, we would recommend Hilltop to other couples. The venue is run by the lovely Gardner family, who work so hard for you. Both Clare and Martin are supportive throughout the run up and make sure the day runs smoothly. They are definitely pros at putting on a wedding.

They even included some extras, like Martin taking some additional photos which he sent us following the wedding.

Everything about the venue is great, it looks fantastic, the food is of an extremely high standard, and everything runs very smoothly with a relaxed atmosphere.


We had a great day, and it is very hard to pick a favourite part, although we both really enjoyed the ceremony. The service was very relaxed and our vicar made it very personal.


The Monday after the wedding we drove up to Ilkey for a minimoon where we spent a week in a converted pump house on Ilkey Moor. We had a very relaxed week, and we treated ourselves to a meal at The Box Tree restaurant in Ilkely.

In September we went to the Maldives. It was the true definition of a luxury honeymoon. We spent the first week in a beach villa and moved to a water villa for the second week. The resort was lovely with lots of restaurants and the snorkelling was amazing.


Just relax and have fun! We both had a great day, as did our guests.

During the planning, I used the Brides Up North real weddings on the blog for inspirations, and we also attended one of your wedding fairs at Hilltop House.

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