Real Weddings

Justin Alexander Signature for a Classic Wedding at Yorkshire Wedding Barn – Emily & Stephen

Sarah Symonds

Fall in love with Emily and Stephen’s emerald green, fresh spring day in a beautiful Yorkshire barn today on the blog.

Groom Stephen’s dedication to making a thousand origami cranes certainly brought our couple luck, as they managed to fit their big day and their South African honeymoon in just before lockdown began!

His blushing bride, Emily, shows us how to take your favourite colour and run with it – after all, it is your wedding! And with that in mind, if you want to use your wedding as an excuse to buy the designer shoes you’ve always wanted then, girl, you go ahead and do it!

If you’re in the midst of planning your own big Yorkshire celebration (with or without the New Zealand inspired wine list!) read on for some top tips, heaps of inspiration and a hit list of cracking local suppliers!

With photography by David Conaty Photography


Emily says: Stephen proposed on the 24th of April 2019, on Mosquito Bay in Abel Tasman, New Zealand. We lived in New Zealand for three years and, in our last year, we bought a van and turned it into a campervan called ‘Big Al’. On the day we got engaged we had taken the van for a trip, had an incredible day kayaking in Abel Tasman and were camping overnight. We walked around the coast to the next bay at sunset and no one else was on this beach. Stephen got down on one knee with a beautiful emerald engagement ring. We then went back to the campsite for champagne (that Stephen had somehow hidden in the kayak) in our camp mugs and to watch the sun go down.


We got married on the 7th of March 2020 at St Andrew’s Church in South Otterington. It’s actually the church next to my primary school and in the next village to where I grew up.

We knew we didn’t want a long engagement and I didn’t want to get married in summer so we were looking for a date in spring. Fortunately as it turns out, our venue only had one Saturday left in March, because now with Covid-19 we feel very fortunate that we managed to get married in 2020 at all! And in the end the date was perfect.

We had our reception at the Yorkshire Wedding Barn. We were looking for a venue near to the church that showed off Yorkshire, had accommodation on site, had enough space for around 150 guests, and would allow us to use an outside caterer and bring in New Zealand wine!

I viewed the venue with my Mum, without Stephen. I knew once we’d seen the barns, the bar areas, the beautiful views and the incredible accommodation that this was the venue for us. I thought it was somewhere that guests would want to come to for the weekend so we could see more of them, which was really important to us after living abroad for a long time. I booked without Stephen even seeing it! Needless to say, I was delighted when Stephen loved it as much as me!


I wanted the venue to look relaxed, fresh and bright, with simple styling. My favourite colour is green and I wanted to include this. We also used white and gold.

Stephen folded 1000 paper cranes. There is a Japanese tradition that says whoever folds 1000 origami cranes will be granted a wish. He decided against going with the colour theme and went bold with a mixture of brightly coloured sheets, kaleidoscope and nature patterns. These were hung in the smaller barn in a curtain between fairy lights. The cranes were then also used as favours in the main barn, which tied the styles together.


My dress was Justin Alexander Signature style 9904. I bought it at the Harrogate Wedding Lounge, then had alterations and a bespoke jacket made at their sister shop the Harrogate Bridal Collection. All the staff at these boutiques were fab. Particularly Leanne, who encouraged me to try on a strapless gown, and Jo, the seamstress, who designed and made a jacket to match. Her attention to detail was incredible. I also wore a full length veil with satin trim.

I was fairly certain I wanted a plain ball gown style dress with a train and I never thought that I would go strapless! I loved the simplicity of this dress with the statement seams on the skirt of the dress and the lapel style on the sweetheart neckline. The soft satin was beautiful and moved really nicely, although it was rather heavy!

My shoes were Hangisi Bis by Manolo Blahnik in emerald green. I have wanted a pair of Manolos for so long, and what better excuse than my wedding! I decided to get them in green because that’s my favourite colour and so that I could easily wear them again! They were surprisingly comfortable and I wore them all day.


Stephen wore a navy Hugo Boss three piece suit with a white shirt and dark tartan tie. His shoes were Paul Smith.

The groomsmen wore textured navy blue suits from Next, champagne coloured ties and had pocket squares, made by Stephen’s mum, from fabric I bought in India.


The plan was for all the bridesmaids to wear different dresses, but they all liked the same one! We settled on an ASOS dress in forest green. They also wore glittery gold heels from New Look and their own jewellery and hair pieces.


We had two fabulous Jodies! Jodie did our hair and another Jodie did our makeup! They nailed everyone’s look and we all felt beautiful and confident!

I cannot overemphasize how relaxed Jodie and Jodie made everyone feel in the morning, when we were getting ready. They so quickly transformed us all! My Mum, who really doesn’t wear makeup, was delighted with her look, even though she was initially very apprehensive about having her makeup done!


We are very fortunate that the cars we used were family cars. I travelled to the church with my dad in a Rolls Royce driven by my uncle, and the bridesmaids went in my mum’s Riley. My mum decorated both cars with flowers and ribbons. She also added a ‘just married’ sign and balloons to the Rolls for after the ceremony.


We picked David Conaty as he had photographed my cousin’s wedding last summer and we liked his style. David was great on the day, he made us, our family and our guests feel relaxed. He then edited them and sent our photos to us while we were on our honeymoon, which was a lovely surprise!


We decided pretty late that we wanted a videographer and we couldn’t be more delighted that we decided to go for Red Lime. They were incredibly professional and nailed the style of the video that we wanted. I have watched it over and over!


Hutton Flowers is where we always used to get our Mother’s Day flowers from here when I was little so I asked Catherine, the florist, to put my bouquets together. I wanted to incorporate white roses for Yorkshire, ferns for New Zealand and thistles for Scotland – the three main places I’ve lived – and then freesias just because I love them. Catherine added in anemones and brunia, neither of which I had seen in a bouquet before and I loved. The bridesmaids had smaller versions of my bouquet and the button holes were made with thistles and foliage.

Hutton Flowers also did foliage for the top table and the lychgate at the church. The other church flowers were done by a lady from the church. The flowers on the tables were from mine and my mum’s garden.

We also had three huge flower chandeliers made by Lucy Hope. They were exactly how I imagined and really tied in with what Catherine at Hutton Flowers had done for the top table.

For the centrepieces, we bought the candelabras from Next with candles from Tiger. The bud vases were all sourced from charity shops and the tealight holders from Gumtree. And my mum made all of the confetti!

Alongside the 1000 paper cranes, we strung photos of us and all the guests over the years and we had photos of our parents and grandparents on their wedding days next to the cake. We also hired lights from MFX Event Hire. The lights looked great but the communication from the company was poor as they didn’t let us know that they couldn’t install them when they had said they would! But it was all sorted by the wedding day.

We used Appycouple for our wedding website. We used it to send save the dates, invites and a thank you message. It was really easy to gather all the guest responses and dietary preferences etc. We found it great! We had guests from all over the world so it was a good way of sending everything out, rather than using traditional post.


We didn’t have favours as such but we put an origami crane at each person’s place. We also had gold acrylic place names. We bought the placenames from a shop on Etsy. Many of the guests said how much they liked them. I’m going to make ours into Christmas decorations.


We had a three tier wedding cake. One tier was fruit cake, made by one of Stephen’s mum’s friends, and the other two tiers were fake! We served the fruit cake alongside lemon drizzle cake made by our mums at the evening reception. The three tier cake was decorated with gold ribbon and origami cranes.


We chose The Hog and Apple as our caterer because every venue I went to, and everyone we spoke to, raved about them! They were fab. We wanted a more relaxed ‘feast’ style dining and they certainly nailed the brief. We picked a selection of canapes from their very extensive menu. We then had a ‘Yorkshire Deli Platter’ for starters, followed by ‘From The Fire’ for main – monkfish tails, lamb cutlets and wood fired chicken served with flatbreads, veggies and biryani rice. Then we had sticky toffee pudding for dessert.

We lived in a wine growing region of New Zealand so all the wine was from Hawke’s Bay. We had a mixture of Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Pinot Gris and Syrah. We sourced all the wine ourselves from Zetland Wines, Majestic Wine and Sainsbury’s.


One of Stephen’s friends played acoustic guitar and sang during the drinks reception, our friend Sandy piped us in to the wedding breakfast and my bridesmaid Susie was our MC.

In the evening we had a band playing – The Granary House Band. They did a selection of pop classics and a few Ceilidh tunes for the Scots! My siblings and I went to school with some of the members of the band and they have played at our family parties before. They are always brilliant. My cousin then DJ-ed until the end of the night.

In the church ceremony my auntie, uncle and cousins played all the music. My cousins and sister also lead the congregation in singing a traditional Maori waiata ‘ Te Aroha’. My friend, Hannah, and Stephen’s friend, Richie, read for us in the church.

Thanks to

Mandy, Nev and Olivia at The Yorkshire Wedding Barn are lovely to work with. Olivia ran our wedding day and made us feel really at ease.

You can really make the venue your own, doing as little or as much as you like, as the barns are beautiful to start with. We liked having the freedom to use all our own suppliers but the YWB does have a list of people that they recommend. The covered outside space means that you’ll be fine regardless of the weather and the accommodation on site meant that we had over half of our guests with us all weekend. Nothing beats a hungover hot tub!

Best bit

I really enjoyed the morning of the wedding, at home with my family and bridesmaids. It was very relaxed and meant that when I walked into the church and saw Stephen, I was able to just take it all in and enjoy it. I loved seeing everyone in the church there for us. I also loved dancing to the Shake It Off/Twist And Shout mashup by the band as their encore!

Stephen says his best bit was the party! He’d said to me that he wouldn’t be able to relax until after the first dance so I’m not surprised he enjoyed the party!


We had an incredible time in South Africa. If getting married in March 2020 wasn’t something to be thankful for enough, we managed a two week honeymoon before returning to the UK just prior to lockdown.

We spent a week on safari in Kruger and Pumba private game reserve, where we saw ‘the big five’, then drove the garden route, did a cycle wine tour in Franschhoek and climbed table mountain.

South Africa went into lockdown while we were away but fortunately all our flights and accommodation were unaffected. We just observed their government’s rules while in Cape Town.


My advice would be to make sure you take time to take it all in. It is quite overwhelming and time goes so quickly. We had half an hour in the car from the church to the venue and it was great to see Stephen and chat to just each other. The rest of the day we were always on the go, speaking to loads of other people.

I also suggest you find some organised people that you trust and then delegate – you can’t do everything yourself! Well, you probably can but it is less stressful with people to help!

And finally, know that the first dance isn’t as bad as you imagine it will be!

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